Therese Ambrosi Smith: Saluting the Rosies

Roundup: Talking About History

Therese Ambrosi Smith is the author of "Wax," a coming-of-age novel about the women in the 1940s.

I can't remember when I first learned about Rosie the Riveter. She's always been there, like the national anthem and baseball. So I was surprised, two years ago, when my 13-year-old friend Lara said that she thought the iconic image from the 1940s was an old ad for power tools.

It was a Saturday morning, and Lara had come by as I was pulling a piece of spongy wood trim off the back window of my beach shack. "Just trying to stay ahead of decay," I said, and asked if she wanted to help.

She picked up my cordless drill and posed with flexed bicep. "We can do it," she said.

"You're a Rosie fan," I said.


"Rosie the Riveter — you know, 'We can do it!'"...

The women who built the steady stream of replacement warships and aircraft deployed in World War II are elderly now. The youngest of them is more than 80 years old. While we are often reminded that we're losing our veterans at a rapid rate, less is said of the mothers, sisters and lovers who equipped the troops and made essential contributions on the home front. They are the great- and great-great grandmothers of the young women I see on the bus, texting friends. I've often wondered if today's daughters know the stories. According to Lara, "Not really." Nearly 70 years have passed since Pearl Harbor was attacked....

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