11. Rosie the Riveter
The iconic image of Rosie the Riveter didn’t represent a single woman. She represented all American women on the home front during the Second World War. During World War II American industry needed workers at all levels, performing tasks which had for all preceding history been the purview of men. Men were in short supply with so many in uniform. American women rose to the challenge, creating the so-called arsenal of democracy which supplied American, as well as British, Canadian, Russian, Australian, French, Polish, and other Allied forces with the means of making war. It was an effort which still does not receive the level of acknowledgment it deserves. At no other time in American history did manufacturing production exceed the levels accomplished largely by American women during World War II.
Make no mistake, men were on the assembly lines alongside them, as well as in the shipyards, working the rails, running the oil rigs, and cutting the timber. Rosie the Riveter inspired women – and men – to do their part, helping to equip the soldiers, sailors, and airmen, with what they needed, as well as encouraging the home front to endure the privations of rationing. Rosie included the women in the factories, the housewives tending Victory Gardens, the shoppers carefully watching their ration cards, the secretaries and typists keeping the bureaucracies and businesses running smoothly throughout the war. Nearly eight decades after she first appeared, Rosie the Riveter continues to inspire men and women to do all they can to get the job done.