The Marin Independent Journal
Phyllis Gould is headed for Washington D.C.
More than 70 years ago, the now-92-year-old broke gender and union barriers to serve her country and help the United States win World War II.
She and four other Rosie the Riveters have been invited by Vice President Joe Biden to a special reception at our nation’s capital in early April.
They are trying to raise money for the trip and have set up a fund at the Rosie the Riveter Trust, P.O. Box 71126, Richmond, CA, 94807.
Donations should specify that they are for the trip to Washington D.C.
Gould calls it all “a bit of a fairy tale,” referring to the personal phone call from Biden and his invitation.
Certainly, it’s a long way from the grueling hours she spent working as a welder at the Kaiser shipyards in 1942.
Gould and other women were recruited because the United States needed workers to help build ships.
They were breaking males-only union rules and, for a short time, needed to be escorted by chaperones to and from their jobs.
Gould stayed on the job until V-J Day ended the war in August 1945. She “retired” from the shipyards and returned home, where she raised five children.
Gould’s trip to Washington, she says, will be recognition for the many women who worked in defense jobs. “Everybody was doing something,” she said of the war effort.
The 1942 poster showed a woman wearing a red polka-dot bandana and rolling up the sleeves of her blue overalls with the printed message, “We Can Do It!” The poster was a rallying cry, and has become a symbol for the women who took “men’s” jobs working in shipyards, munitions plants and aircraft factories across the country.
The women, many of them housewives and mothers, proved they could do it.
There should never have been any doubt, but before 1942, there was. Gould and her co-workers proved them wrong. They not only helped the U.S. turn back military aggression that threatened the world; they paved the way for generations of women.
In 2000, a historical park was created in Richmond, the site of four Kaiser shipyards, to honor Rosies and other homefront defense workers during World War II.
Biden’s invitation is further recognition of that vital military and social contribution Gould and her co-workers made to our nation, its defense and prosperity.
The invitation and recognition is a fitting tribute to their hard work and extraordinary service.