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‘Rosie the Riveter’ re-emerges as symbol of strength during COVID-19 crisis

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RICHMOND, Calif. (KRON) – A World War II symbol of American unity, “Rosie the Riveter,” and her rallying cry, “We Can Do It!” have re-emerged in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This time around, some images of “Rosie” have not one, but two polka dot bandannas: One around her head for keeping her hair back while toiling away in factories making WWII warplanes, and a second over her nose and mouth to prevent spreading a virus.

“In World War II, there was this overarching need. (We Can Do It!) was a call to action,” said Sarah Pritchard, executive director of Rosie the Riveter Trust.

“That’s what’s resurfaced. A need. We all have something that we can do to support this pandemic. You’re seeing Rosie the Riveter all over the place (with) masks. There are nurses saying ‘We Can Do It!'”

Original Rosie the Riveter

“It’s great. It is a wonderful, positive, empowering image. And it always has been. It has always resurrected with the women’s movement, equality, diversity in the workplace, and now this is another use for it,” Pritchard said.

An annual “Rosie Rally” is held every August in Richmond at Craneway Pavilion, in Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historic Park. The event allows people to celebrate the real “Rosies” who are still alive and now in their 90’s, and provides an opportunity to listen to their stories about life on the home front during the war.

2019 Rosie Rally at Craneway Pavilion in Richmond (NPS Photo)

But Craneway Pavilion is currently being used as medical station for COVID-19 patients, and large gatherings are strongly discouraged. So this year’s rally is happening virtually. Organizers are encouraging people to record and post tributes celebrating the “We Can Do It!” spirit through the rally’s website by August 10. The videos will be streamed on social media during the park’s virtual rally August 15.

2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the end of the war and the 20th anniversary of the founding of Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park.

To participate:

  • Go to www.tribute.co/rosie-the-riveter/
  • Don your “Rosie” outfit with a polka dot bandana
  • Strike the “Rosie” pose
  • Say “thank you” to the real “Rosies,” and “happy anniversary” to the park
2019 Rosie Rally at Craneway Pavilion in Richmond (NPS Photo)

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