The Rosie Movement
by Anne Montague
Is it possible for a social movement to succeed in America without blaming anyone? Can’t America agree on something that needs to be done and just stand up and do it?
I’ve counted on this. I’ve worked for nine years in Kanawha County to create ways for Americans to work together, and now I have the honor to be enriched by knowing and working with “Rosie the Riveters” so that Rosies will have a voice in shaping their own legacy.
On Labor Day this year, our nonprofit organization “Thanks! Plain and Simple” (or simply “Thanks!”) will launch the American Rosie Movement by getting people to ring bells in unison across America to celebrate Rosie the Riveters and their contributions to this country. Our message repeats what Rosies during World War II said: “We pull better when we pull together!”
We first practiced this event last year, and about 50 locations participated all over the United States, as well as two Allied Nations. Our partners included the US Park Service, the American Rosie the Riveter Association, and the National Liberation Museum in Groesbeek, Netherlands.
Charleston’s “Ring a Bell for Rosies” event on Labor Day this year is model for America. The history is important. In 1952, France gave every state a duplicate of the Liberty Bell to thank Americans for helping to liberate them. This Labor Day, the bell at the West Virginia capitol will join these bells to ring for Rosies, with Rosies. Our goal is to help all states to join in next year.
Famous places across the United States will ring all kinds of bells in unison on Labor Day at 1:00 PM, EDT. Some of the more notable locations include the President’s Church in Quincy, MA (where John Adams and his family are buried), the American Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Park near San Francisco, CA, the Netherlands Carillon in Arlington, VA and, of course, the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, PA.
Fellow Rosie Nick Withrow and I will be at the National Cathedral in Washington D. C. on Labor Day, where a three-hour peal will occur, as well as honoring Rosies during their Sunday service the day before. We will be giving Nick an award for being the first Model Rosie the Riveter Teen in America. This is the eighth award we have given for exemplary work with Rosies.
West Virginia is leading the American Rosie Movement. “Ring a Bell for Rosies” events will be held in Huntington, Flatwoods, Rowelsburg, and the greater Martinsburg area in unison with other bells that will be rung with Rosies in many places across America.
We have received deeply-felt criticisms over the past nine years. As a poor, disabled, older woman, I am often asked why I do so much. I used to be at a loss for words. I’d think about America’s promise and potential or how I feel like I haven’t been heard, much like Rosies haven’t been heard, and I wouldn’t know what to say. Now, I simply answer, “Because it needs to be done. When will you help?”
One of the most famous Rosies, Nancy Sipple, inspected airplane-engine parts in Cincinnati, OH during WWII. Before she died in 2012, she said, “We pulled together then; we must pull together again. It’s our only hope!” This sentiment rings true to us. It’s time to pull together, again!