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Rosie the Riveter gold medal legislation introduced

Rosie the Riveter legislation introduced Feb. 2 in the U.S. House seeks a congressional gold medal to recognize the wartime work contributions of women during World War II.

H.R. 4912, was introduced by U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-CA.

The medal would be collectively presented “to the American women who joined the workforce during World War II, providing the vehicles, weaponry, and ammunition to win the war, that were referred to as Rosie the Riveter, in recognition of their contributions to the Nation and the inspiration they have provided to ensuing generations.”

With so many men serving in the military, manufacturers turned to women to fill essential jobs in all sorts of industries. Jobs that were traditionally performed by men instead were performed by women.

In 1942, Pittsburgh artist J. Howard Miller was hired by Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company’s internal War Production Coordinating Committee, through an advertising agency, to create a series of posters to display to the company’s workers.

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Among Miller’s posters displayed in Westinghouse factories was one that depicts a female worker wearing coveralls and a white polka-dotted red bandanna and flexing the muscles of her right arm to symbolize women’s strength in support of the war effort. The subject of the American wartime propaganda poster, first displayed in February 1943, was tagged with the title “Rosie the Riveter.”

The poster was not connected to the 1942 song “Rosie the Riveter,” nor to the widely seen Norman Rockwell painting called “Rosie the Riveter” that appeared on the cover of the Memorial Day issue of the Saturday Evening Post, dated May 29, 1943. 

Naomi Parker Fraley, the woman most recently credited as being the model for the poster, passed away Jan. 20, 2018, at age 96.

The poster is purportedly based on a press photograph taken of Parker Fraley as one of the first women hired to work in the machine shop repairing aircraft at the Naval Air Station in Alameda, California, following the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. She had worked as a waitress and later became a minister.

For the legislation to become law, both houses would have to pass the legislation and the president would have to sign the measure before the current session of Congress ends at the close of the year.

If the medal is approved, following the formal presentation of the gold medal, the medal would be delivered to the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History for public display and access for research.

The legislation authorizes the Treasury secretary to have the U.S. Mint strike bronze duplicates of the 3-inch gold medal for sale to the public.

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