Bells Ringing

Event to honor ‘Rosie the Riveters’

At 1 p.m. on Labor Day, bells will be ringing at five locations in West Virginia, to celebrate the enormous contribution American women working in industry made toward victory in World War II. We refer to them now by the collective term, “Rosie the Riveter.”

But there will be no bells ringing anywhere in our coverage area, according to the organization behind the event planned for Monday.

The nonprofit group Thanks! Plain and Simple was established to do what its name says — to express gratitude to the women who, by the millions, worked in industries during the war. They were needed because many of the men who had performed those jobs had enlisted in or been drafted by the armed forces.

Estimates of how many women responded to recruiting campaigns seeking their labor in war industries vary. One analysis concluded about 3 million who had not been employed before the war accepted jobs in defense manufacturing plants. When the war ended, most left those positions as the men who had held them previously came flooding home from overseas.

On its face, 3 million “Rosie the Riveters” is a lot of women. But during the war, the country’s population was only about 40 percent what it is now. A comparable response to a government plea for help now would require about 7.5 million people.

Like military veterans of World War II, there are few “Rosies” left among us. The goal of organizations like Thanks! Plain and Simple, is to express our gratitude to them while we still can.

The state organization has enlisted supporters in five communities –Charleston, Huntington, Flatwoods, Harpers Ferry and Rowlesburg — to participate in the Monday bell ringing.

It is a shame no ceremony is planned in Buckhannon, where the movement began when Kendra Fox, a Brownie Girl Scout, rang a bell at the moment a tree was planted for a “Rosie,” Bobbie Lamb, in April 2016.

Perhaps it is a simple problem of communication. It may be that local people plan to participate in the bell ringing, but have not let the Charleston-based organization know that. We hope that is the case.

One way or another, let us hope that in our region, bells are ringing at 1 p.m. on Labor Day. It seems the least we can do for women who deserve some expression of thanks for helping to keep our nation free during a very real threat to its survival.

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