WASHINGTON, D.C. >> On the heels of Veterans Day, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) has announced Senate passage of his bipartisan legislation to honor American women who joined the workforce in support of the war effort during World War II.
The Rosie the Riveter Congressional Gold Medal Act would award a Congressional Gold Medal to these “Rosie the Riveters” who answered the Nation’s call to action and learned new skills, many building the vehicles, weaponry, and ammunition that were critical to the war effort.
Senator Casey led the effort along with U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and U.S. Representatives Jackie Speier (D-CA-14) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-1). 76 senators co-sponsored the Senate bill, including every female senator.
“These ‘Rosie the Riveters’ played an invaluable role in our Nation’s efforts during the war. They rose to the challenge and set a powerful example – not only for working women, but for all Americans. Millions of women helped support our troops during WWII, whether they worked on assembly lines, addressed the troops’ medical needs or tended to ships and farms. Today, their example continues to inspire generations to embody the ‘We Can Do It’ spirit. The ‘Rosies’ are among our Nation's greatest living heroines, and they deserve this long-overdue recognition for their tremendous service to our country,” said Senator Casey.
“This bipartisan legislation to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the 16 million ‘Rosie the Riveters’ will provide a long-overdue recognition of these incredible women who stepped up in a time of great need,” said Senator Collins. “During World War II, mothers, wives, and daughters answered our nation's call to action by working tirelessly in factories, farms, shipyards, airplane factories, and other institutions in support of our Armed Forces. Their hard work, dedication, and 'We Can Do It' spirit has inspired many future generations of women.”
“During one of the most challenging chapters of American history, our real-life Rosie the Riveters were beacons of hope and patriotism,” said Representative Speier, Co-Chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus. “Their ‘We Can Do It’ spirit inspired a nation grappling with the hardships of war to rise to the challenge, supercharge the war effort, and achieve victory. The iconic image of Rosie the Riveter continues to inspire generations of young women across America to blaze new trails. But for decades, our Rosies – many of whom continue to dedicate their lives to service – have been denied the recognition awarded to other World War II heroes. I’m thankful to Sen. Casey for his tireless efforts and thrilled that the Senate has joined the House in passing legislation to finally honor Rosie the Riveters for their courage, sacrifice, and immense contributions to our nation.”
“I am incredibly happy to see the Senate pass our bipartisan Rosie the Riveter Congressional Gold Medal Act. During World War II, women across our country, and across Pennsylvania, left their homes to work in support of the war effort. These patriots worked as riveters, buckers, welders, and electricians,” said Representative Fitzpatrick. “These ‘Rosie the Riveters’ embodied the ‘We can do it’ spirit forever connected with the famous poster. I am especially proud to represent Levittown’s Mae Krier, who helped build B-17 and B-29 Bombers during World War II. Mae’s tireless advocacy for her fellow Rosies helped get this legislation through the House and Senate. I would also like to thank Senator Casey for his partnership on this important legislation.”
“I started this effort in the 1980s because people didn’t know how important women were to the war,” said Mae Krier, a Rosie the Riveter from Levittown, PA who has advocated on behalf of her fellow Rosies for decades. “After the war the men would say they would not have won without the women and what we made, but over time, people did not know that. Millions of women dropped everything to assist however we could. It was our job, not your job or my job. It was not about Democrats or Republicans. It was about saving the country. We made the country realize that women are capable. So I set a goal to make sure we were recognized. I was afraid we wouldn’t make history, but now our hard work has paid off. I thank Senator Casey, Senator Collins, Representative Fitzpatrick, and Representative Speier for their dedication to recognizing all of the Rosies.”
The percentage of women in the workforce jumped from 27 percent to nearly 37 percent between 1940 and 1945. By the end of the war, nearly one out of every four married women worked outside the home. These ‘Rosie the Riveters’ took positions across various industries, but the aviation industry saw the biggest increase of female workers – with more than 310,000 working in the aircraft industry in 1943, representing 65 percent of its workforce.