Many Detroit women were heroes during World War II. They didn’t fight in the European or Pacific Theatres. They built the machines of war, the famous B-24 Liberator bombers, in Ford Motor Co.’s Willow Run Bomber Plant in Ypsilanti, which made Detroit a major force in the Arsenal of Democracy.
They were Rosie the Riveters.
Today (Tuesday, March 22) these women were honored by the Ford Motor Company Fund when it and the Talons Out Honor Flight and Yankee Air Museum flew 30 of the original Rosie the Riveters to Washington, D.C., to celebrate their critical contributions to the war effort.
These ladies are now 88-98 year old.
While in Washington they visited the World War II Memorial and were treated to a special luncheon in their honor at the Library of Congress on Capitol Hill with members of Congress from Michigan.
“These women not only helped win a war, they paved the way for future generations to achieve economic and personal independence,” said Jim Vella, president, Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services, the philanthropic arm of Ford. “It is an honor to celebrate their vital contributions to our country and the cause of freedom.”
When World War II started these women were traditional American housewives, mothers and daughters. Everything changed when millions of men left home to fight and the country needed help to produce the machines of war. Rosie the Riveters took over the assembly lines. Not only did the help win the war, what they did changed the workforce for women forever and laid the groundwork for today’s women moving into the workplace.
The Willow Run Bomber Plant mile-long assembly line churned out nearly 9,000 B-24 Liberators – one every hour, or half of all the B-24s built during the war. At peak production, 42,000 people worked there, about one-third of them were Rosies.
A section of the Willow Run plant will become the new home for Yankee Air Museum after a successful fund-raising campaign to preserve and renovate the facility. More than 2,000 women last year gathered at Willow Run Airport to set the record for the most representatives of Rosie to assemble in one place.
The Rosie the Riveter Honor Flight is part of Ford’s ongoing support for women and military veterans. The company is strong supporter of veterans and has sponsored 11 Honor Flights of World War II veterans to Washington, D.C. Last year, the Ford Fund supported the Freedom Sisters REBOOT Workshop, which helped integrate women military veterans back into civilian life.
– Photos courtesy of Ford Motor Co.