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Rosie the Riveter receives Congressional Gold Medal

This gold medal is for all Rosies. This medal represents millions of women who went to work during World War II... Remember these four little words: We can do it!

Mae Krier


L-549’s Angel Greer speaks with Rosie Mae Krier, who was instrumental in securing a Rosie the Riveter Day and a Congressional Gold Medal for Rosies.

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Rosie the Riveters were honored with The Congressional Gold Medal on April 10 in Washington, D.C., at the United States Capitol building, for their significant contributions to the nation during World War II. To date, fewer than 200 Congressional Gold Medals, which is the highest U.S. award for civilian accomplishments, have been bestowed since the nation began. 

During World War II, Rosie the Riveter became an iconic symbol of female empowerment in aviation, shipbuilding and other industries. As men enlisted into the armed forces, women joined the industrial workforce to fill labor shortages. Shipbuilding, a vital industry for wartime efforts, saw a surge in female workers, many of whom took on roles reserved for men. 

Riveting became synonymous with Rosie, representing the thousands of women who joined the workforce to support the war effort. Their contributions were pivotal in maintaining the production of aircrafts and ships, essential for transportation and maintaining supply lines during the conflict.

Rosie the Riveter not only symbolized women’s capabilities in male-dominated fields but also started a societal shift in the perceptions of gender roles and work. Women proved their competence in shipyards across the nation. And the surviving women of the Rosie generation wanted that contribution recognized.

 The Congressional Gold Medal was the culmination of years of relentless advocacy by two iconic Rosies: Mae Krier and Phyllis Gould, who initially campaigned for a federal Rosie the Riveter Day. Those efforts led to the establishment of the National Rosie the Riveter Day on March 21, coinciding with Women’s History Month. 

While their pursuit of a federal holiday fell short, they pivoted and set their sights on a Congressional Gold Medal instead. Through Gould’s and Krier’s persistent advocacy and bipartisan support in Congress, the Rosie the Riveter Congressional Gold Medal Act passed Congress in November 2020. 

Gould, an artist and one of the first women accepted into the Boilermakers union, envisioned a diverse representation of Rosies on the medal and her design concept influenced the medal's creation. Though Gould died in 2021, Krier continued the Rosie vision, contributing to the medal's design with Gould’s daughter, Lori Gould.

At the Congressional Gold Medal ceremony, several lawmakers spoke including Speaker of the House Mike Johnston, Democratic Leader of the House Hakeem Jeffries, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, PA-1, Senator Susan Collins of Maine and Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania. Emancipation Hall was packed with Rosies and their supporters and families, with many dressed in red polka dots, the same that covered the hair of original model on the “We Can Do It!” poster printed during WWII.

“Mothers, wives, sisters and daughters answered the call,” Collins said. “The can-do spirit of Rosie the Riveters has inspired generations of women ever since.” 

As Krier accepted the Gold Medal on behalf of the Rosies, she acknowledged their unwavering dedication to the nation during WWII and beyond. 

“This gold medal is for all Rosies. This medal represents millions of women who went to work during World War II. Up until then, it was a man’s world. Men didn’t know how competent we were until then,” Krier said with a laugh. “Remember these four little words: We can do it!”

Local 549 (Pittsburg, California) members Rennae Ross and Angel Greer attended ceremony and celebration dinner, where they handed out replica medals, gifted to the Rosies from Local 549 and Local 92 (Los Angeles). Ross is chairperson and Greer is co-chairperson of L-549's Boilermaker Women At Work committee.

Greer acknowledged a connection between the Rosies of old and women working in heavy construction and manufacturing today.  

“The impact of the Rosies is me standing here as a journeywoman. They went through so much in the field. People don’t understand that a lot of the jobs women hold today—men would have been holding those if it wasn’t for them,” Greer said. “They broke barriers without even knowing it. It’s because of these ladies that I’m here today. I’m a proud Boilermaker. And when I’m in the field and I’m having a hard time, I think about them. I think about what they went through, and I can’t give up.”  

She said she wants to continue to make way for the women coming behind her, just like the Rosie generation did for women like her who work in jobs historically done by men. 

The Rosies’ legacy lives on in this prestigious honor, a testament to the indelible mark these women left on history.