When it comes to American icons, I’m a traditionalist. I love the Statue of Liberty, the Corn Palace, bluegrass and blue jeans. And yes, I’m fond of Norman Rockwell’s illustrations, particularly his portrayal of Rosie the Riveter.
When Rosie appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post in 1943, my parents were living in the Quad Cities. Dad worked at John Deere, while my mother spent her days helping the war effort by riveting aircraft. She took great satisfaction in the work, trusted her partner, and always enjoyed telling stories about Hellcats, nose cones and turrets.
Even after my parents moved back to Iowa and her work at the factory ended, she kept a cherished copy of the Post in her cedar chest and a torn-out image of Rosie tucked between some books in the den. When Hillary Clinton adapted the better-known “We can Do It” poster for her Presidential campaign, Mom wasn’t happy. “That’s just not right, for them to call her Rosie,” she’d say. “That’s not the real Rosie. I’ve got Rosie’s picture in my closet.” (more…)