We too often only learn of a person’s story in his or her obituary.
Much in that same vein, we also often only learn of some group’s or demographic’s role in our history in the twilight of its years.
One such instance of this sort of collective ignorance is of World War II’s Rosie the Riveters, until recently.
Sure, there are dozens of mentions in local women’s obituaries about their role as a Rosie the Riveter throughout the more than 20 years of our electronic archives.
However, not until spring 2015 did we note any official recognition locally for these women’s historic contributions to the war effort.
That event was a presentation at WVU by a half-dozen Rosies — all in their 90s — including several local ones, as part of an effort to create a national movement to recognize other working women of this era.
That appears to be about to change soon in ways we should all applaud.
This year, legislators agreed to name the bridge crossing Interstate 79 at the new Exit 153 the Rosie the Riveters Memorial Bridge. On Sept. 1, a ribbon-cutting ceremony will bestow that name on this impressive span.
Then on Labor Day, Sept. 5, a state group that also organized last year’s WVU event is sponsoring bell ringings in at least seven state communities, including Morgantown, to honor these women.
Though we are a bit conscience-stricken to admit little mention of Rosie the Riveters over the years, we’re setting the record straight today.
God bless you and thank you all for answering your nation’s call to supply the war effort in its darkest hours.
Undoubtedly, these women played a vital role in shortening and winning World War II.
The vast majority of them also stepped back from their positions once millions of men returned from the war.
However, many historians point to this era as laying the groundwork for women demanding social, political and economic equality since then.
Even today, the image of the denim-clad Rosie the Riveter, with her sleeves rolled up, her hair tied back with a scarf and the slogan “We can do it!” is still the cultural icon it was in the 1940s.
Stepping into the role of laborers, welders, munition workers, riveters and many such newfound jobs in massive numbers in defense plants was not easy then.
Many of these women came from rural areas, such as our state, and worked all the while knowing their loved ones were in harm’s way overseas.
There are many lessons we can learn from the Greatest Generation as well as the latest generation.
But perhaps the most important one is, all of history, including World War II, is also her story.