April 12, 2024

The countless women who held down the U.S. industrial base and supported defense manufacturing during World War II, known and mythologized as “Rosie the Riveters,” were honored for their contributions with the Congressional Gold Medal. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-4-LA) presented the Rosies with the award with Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (D-8-NY) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-1-PA), former Rep. Jackie Speier (D-14-CA), and Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Susan Collins (R-ME).

With men drafted to fight the war, millions of women joined the war effort at home by working in factories and shipyards to build equipment for combat. Many Rosies helped build aircraft for military use by serving as welders, mechanics, engineers and riveters. They changed the landscape of the industrial workforce forever.

More than two dozen Rosies from around the country attended the ceremony, which was held Wednesday, April 10 at the United States Capitol Building. This included 98-year-old Mae Krier, who accepted the medal on behalf of the Rosies. “This medal represents the millions of American women who went to work during World War II. We helped our country, and we also helped save the world,” she said.

Krier spent decades raising awareness about the Rosies’ contributions to the war effort and calling for Congress to formally recognize and honor them. She joined the war effort at the age of 17, helping to build Boeing B-17 and B-29 bomber aircraft.

The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest honor that can be presented to civilians. Fewer than 200 Gold Medals have been awarded in the country’s history.

Speaker Johnson applauded the women who “used their talents for the good of our nation.”

Rep. Speier said “The Rosies didn’t just help to win the war. They transformed the workforce and the culture in this country forever.”

Rep. Fitzpatrick added: “They are trailblazers, they are heroes, and they are some of the finest Americans our country has even seen and ever known.”

As an organization committed to championing aviation, with a deep reverence for the unsung leaders, innovators and heroes who laid the groundwork of our industry’s deep history, NBAA is thrilled to see Congress honor and celebrate these women, and their contributions to advancing aviation.

“This recognition for the Rosies is well-deserved, if overdue,” NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen said. “These brave women were instrumental to the success of the war effort. We are grateful to the many women who stepped up to support and advance the aviation industry during World War II and paved the way for future generations of women to pursue careers in aviation and aerospace.”