Nineteen women shared their Rosie the Riveter stories at the Atlanta History Center. (Photos by Clare Martin)
Nineteen women shared their Rosie the Riveter stories at the Atlanta History Center. (Photos by Clare S. Richie)

By Clare S. Richie

The poster is an icon. A strong woman with a bandana on her head flexes her muscles and proudly declares “We Can Do It”. She became known as Rosie the Riveter, representing women of World War II who worked traditionally male jobs, while millions of men served in the military. Some Rosies built fighter planes, produced munitions and manufactured war supplies. Others served as nurses, pilots, or USO volunteers.

Their stories are being added to the Atlanta History Center YouTube channel and you can watch Riveter Milka Bamon explains the dangers of being a riveter and why they wore the famous headscarf in the clip below this article.

While in Atlanta for the 18th Annual American Rosie the Riveter Association (ARRA) Convention/Reunion, 19 Rosie the Riveters from across the U.S. stopped by the Atlanta History Center for a panel discussion and for video interviews.

ARRA is a nonprofit that seeks to preserve the legacy of working women during World War II; to encourage fellowship among its members and their descendants (Rosebuds and Rivets); and to promote the ideals of excellence in the workplace and patriotism.

Mae Crar holds a picture of her with other Rosies celebrating their efforts building B17 Bombers during WWII.

The Rosies who attended ranged in age from late 80s to late 90s with clear memories of their role during wartime.

“I’d never been on an airplane before and then was building them,” Dr. Frances Carter, ARRA founder, shared. In 1942 she went to work drilling holes and riveting B-29 bombers.

In lighter moments, Carter talked about wearing pants to work. “You can’t crawl over a B29 in a dress. We had to let fashion go.”

Before the war, most of these women had never worked outside the home. But they answered the call and forever changed the perception of women in the workplace.

“We broke the glass ceiling. We were patriotic – not trying to fight for our rights but we did so just the same,“ Carter explained.

Mae Krier also built B17 and B29 bombers. “Up until 1941 they didn’t know what American women were capable of,” Krier shared.“We riveted all day and danced half the night.” In 1944 she met “the cutest sailor on the dance floor” and they were married nearly 70 years until his recent passing.

This is not just a celebration of history its an inspiration for the future.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.