'Rosie the Riveter' women could be awarded the Congressional Gold Medal

Abbie Bennett
November 13, 2019 - 11:28 am
RosietheRiveter

Office for Emergency Management. Office of War Information. Domestic Operations Branch. News Bureau. National Archives.

The women who would later be characterized by the symbol of "Rosie the Riveter" could receive Congress' highest award if a bill approved by the House today becomes law. 

H.R. 1773 would award the Congressional Gold Medal collectively to "the women in the United States who joined the workforce during World War II, providing the aircraft, vehicles, weaponry, ammunition and other material to win the war, that were referred to as 'Rosie the Riveter' in recognition of their contributions to the United States and the inspiration they have provided to ensuing generations." 

Congress can award one gold medal each year, the "highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions" of an individual, institution or event, according to the history of the award. 

RosietheRiveter
Department of Labor. Women's Bureau. National Archives.

More than 6 million women answered a call to action 70 years ago, according to the bill, to fill a demand for workers left by the men who went to fight the war. 

"These women left their homes to work or volunteer full-time in factories, farms, shipyards, airplane factories, banks and other institutions in support of the military overseas," the bill reads. "They worked with the United Service Organizations and the American Red Cross, drove trucks, riveted airplane parts, collected critical materials, rolled bandages and served on rationing boards."

Those women "are among the greatest living heroines in the United States" and "persevered, despite often facing harassment from their male colleagues and disapproval from their male families members, all while continuing to maintain their 'other jobs' as caretakers of children and their households," the bill reads.

Women of color also "overcame long-held policies of discrimination and made significant contributions to the war effort." 

The bill defines "Rosie the Riveter" as any woman who "held employment or volunteered in support of the war efforts during World War II."  

The House already voted to give the WWII Merchant Mariners the medal in September, leaving it up to the Senate to decide which group will receive the award after the House passed the bill for Rosie the Riveter women by voice vote Wednesday. 

RosietheRiveter
Office for Emergency Management. Office of War Information. Domestic Operations Branch. News Bureau. National Archives.

If awarded, a single gold medal will be created and given to the National Museum of American History, where it will be available for display or at other locations, as appropriate, though the bill also allows duplicate medals to be created. 

Reach Abbie Bennett: abbie@connectingvets.com or @AbbieRBennett.

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