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COLUMNIST

'Rosie the Riveter' tells about women in WWII

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By Kristi Langenbacher
Columnist

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Last week’s Veterans Day events gave people around the country a chance to honor those who have served and continue to serve in our nation’s military.

Our family had the honor of attending and taking part in several events where we are currently stationed in Northern California, including a Veterans Day ceremony honoring veterans and featuring a real life “Rosie the Riveter” as the keynote speaker.

Phyllis Gould worked as a welder at the Kaiser Shipyards in Richmond, California, during World War II as one of the women who collectively became known as Rosie the Riveter. For about three years, from 1942 until the end of the war in 1945, Gould worked in the shipyards alongside her mother and two sisters. She was one of the first women to achieve journeymen classification among her union cohorts. She worked to help build Victory and Liberty cargo and transport ships to replace the ships torpedoed by Nazi submarines.

Gould is now 95 years old, and continues to share her story, and the stories of many women like her, who answered the call to go to work as the men around them left jobs to serve our country during the war.

She is currently spearheading a movement to have the federal government recognize a national Rosie the Riveter Day in March, as part of Women’s History Month, to honor all women who contributed to the war effort.

Gould spoke of her nearly decade-long efforts lobbying government officials to recognize the contributions of the millions of women who supported the war effort.

Gould said she was shocked when she learned that younger generations are uneducated about the women who supported the war effort on the home front by working in jobs previously held by men as electricians, loggers, welders and riveters. That point hit home when Gould’s granddaughter told her that her elementary school teacher said she could not present a report about Rosie the Riveter because the group of women was just a myth.

In addition to Gould’s speech, the annual Veterans Day ceremony also featured music from a live band which played patriotic music and honored every branch of the military. The event continued outside the auditorium with the presentation of wreaths honoring veterans from all branches of the service.

Our children were among the high school students who participated in the event as cadets from the U.S. Air Force Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps based at Novato High School. They presented the colors indoors and marched outdoors to present the colors during the laying of wreaths at the foot of the statues to honor fallen comrades.

Attendees observed a moment of silence and the event concluded with “Taps" being played at 11:11 a.m. to mark the 99th anniversary of the official end of World War I in 1918.

Kristi Langenbacher is a Coast Guard spouse and writes about military family life.

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