Honoring Local "Rosie the Riveters"

By Jason Dennis - bio | e-mail


A lot of veterans live in the Chattahoochee Valley, some from World War II, so it was appropriate on Tuesday night in Columbus to honor some of the women who worked in war factories back in the 1940's. They're known as "Rosie the Riveters."

You may recognize the name or the famous old poster, with the female character - her sleeves rolled up, flexing her bicep, a bandanna on her head.

Rosie the Riveter was a cultural icon, representing the American women who worked in support of World War II.

"They were sort of the glue that held everything together, because there were no men in the factories. They were the ones that built the ships, they built the airplanes, and manufactured the ammunition," said Jonnie Clasen, the President of the Columbus/Phenix City chapter of the Rosie the Riveter Association.

Clasen is also known as a "Rosebud," the daughter of a real-life Rosie the Riveter.

Columbus State University hosted Tuesday's event, honoring Rosies like 83-year-old June Tinker, who was a teenager when she repaired B52 and B29 planes that were shot down in the war.

Tinker told us, "This is about what I wore when I worked. (pointing to the red handkerchief on her head) We had to keep our hair covered."

CSU students crowded into the Columbus Library, inspired by the Riveters who paved the way, breaking down barriers for women in the workplace.

"Telling them about going to the factory, running into the air raid shelters...they didn't know anything about that," said Carrie Pettit, one of the Rosie the Riveter members being honored.

"It's living history," said CSU senior Rebekah Atkinson, "talking to somebody who actually lived it is a lot easier than reading a book about history."

"I think it's wonderful to have something like this to open the eyes of some of the young students," Tinker added.

And CSU senior Robert Barker said, "It would be a shame for them to be forgotten, for the important things they did."

It's a lesson CSU students won't soon forget.

The Columbus-Phenix City chapter of the american rosie the riveter association will be one year old on April 15.  It's the 13th such chapter in the U.S.   The oldest "Rosie" in our area is 95 years old.