WASHINGTON — On the heels of Veterans Day, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., is announcing 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 ammunitions that were critical to the war effort. Casey led the effort along with U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and U.S. Reps. Jackie Speier, D-San Francisco, and Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Levittown, 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 Casey.
Fitzpatrick echoed those comments.
“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 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.”
Krier had advocated on behalf of her fellow Rosies for decades.
“I started this effort in the 1980s because people didn’t know how important women were to the war,” said Krier. “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.”
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.