[aesop_image imgwidth=”300px” img=”https://signal-tribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Screen-Shot-2017-03-30-at-5.34.31-PM.png” credit=”Neena Strichart | Signal Tribune” align=”right” lightbox=”on” caption=”“Rosie” Elinor Otto (left), 97, accompanied by U.S. Rep. Alan Lowenthal, who presented Otto with a framed copy of recent statements in the Congressional record made by him and others in support of the resolution that made March 21 National Rosie the Riveter Day.” captionposition=”right” revealfx=”off”] By: Anita W. Harris
On March 25, Rosie the Riveter Park and Interpretive Center in Long Beach welcomed a new arrival– a Rosie the Riveter Rose bush. The planting ceremony followed on the heels of March 21, which was officially designated as National Rosie the Riveter Day in a bipartisan resolution passed by the U.S. Congress.
Under a sunny sky, the Rosie the Riveter Rose bush was ceremoniously accepted by U.S. Rep. Alan Lowenthal and planted jointly by: Lowenthal; Elinor Otto, the longest working “Rosie;” Christian BÃ©dard of Weeks Roses, developer of the Rosie the Riveter flower; and Linda Laurie, representing Spirit of ’45, an organization that promotes the legacy of the World War II generation.
The rosebush was placed in an existing garden of roses at the northwest corner of the park, near a memorial wall honoring the women who worked during WWII, and who had replaced the men who had left to fight. According to the recently passed Congressional resolution honoring them, 16 million women “left their homes to work or volunteer full-time in factories, farms, shipyards, airplane factories, banks and other institutions in support of the Armed Forces overseas.”
The women were collectively known as “Rosies” after the term “Rosie the Riveter” – taken from a popular song of the time– and was used to recruit women to the war effort. Besides serving in the American Red Cross, the Congressional resolution notes that these women “drove trucks, riveted airplane parts, collected critical materials, rolled bandages, and served on rationing boards.”
[aesop_image imgwidth=”250px” img=”https://signal-tribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Screen-Shot-2017-03-30-at-5.34.25-PM.png” credit=”Anita W. Harris | Signal Tribune” align=”left” lightbox=”on” caption=”“Rosie” Elinor Otto, 97, helps dig a hole for a commemorative rose bush at Rosie the Riveter Park in Long Beach on March 25, acknowledging National Rosie the Riveter Day.” captionposition=”left” revealfx=”off”]
During the rose-planting ceremony, Laurie introduced Elinor Otto, now 97, as the oldest working Rosie. “Elinor Otto stopped working at 95 [years of age] because Boeing closed the plant [where she worked], not because she was ready to retire,” Laurie said.
Lowenthal presented Elinor Otto with a framed copy of recent statements in the Congressional record made by him and others in support of the resolution. “This past Tuesday was designated as National Rosie the Riveter Day,” he told her, followed by applause from the small crowd that had gathered to witness the event. “Placed into the Congressional record, we presented and talked about you and this park, what it means and the importance of dedicating the park close to all the people who worked at Douglas Aircraft, and all the women who really participated in the war effort, [in] whatever way they did to save this democracy.”
“It’s an honor,” Otto replied.
The park, founded by former Long Beach councilmember Gerrie Schipske in 2006, offers visitors an interpretive walk with several signposts marking important dates and information on the contributions of women during WWII.
The Rosie the Riveter Rose became the park’s newest addition. It is described in the Weeks Roses catalogue as “orange-gold suffused with pink” with a scent of fruit and cinnamon. “Like the tireless Rosies, the [!] plants of Rosie the Riveter are the workhorse of the garden, producing an arsenal of flowers,” the catalogue states. “Maximum flower power? Yes, we can do it!”
[aesop_image imgwidth=”200px” img=”https://signal-tribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Screen-Shot-2017-03-30-at-5.34.20-PM.png” credit=”Neena Strichart | Signal Tribune” align=”right” lightbox=”on” caption=”The Rosie the Riveter rose” captionposition=”right” revealfx=”off”]
Laurie stated that Weeks Roses has existed since 1938. “They’re one of the most reputable rose companies,” she said, noting that the Rosie the Riveter Rose will be featured in its 2018 catalogue, available next month.
“Next year, they’re doing a rose for the Spirit of ’45, which represents everybody on the home front and the battlefield who served in World War II,” Laurie added. “The Spirit of ’45 Rose is yellow like the Peace Rose, but it has a blush of pink on the top, which, in my opinion, represents the kiss [between a U.S. Navy sailor and nurse in the iconic image] on the day that they announced that the war was over.”
Developer BÃ©dard explained that since the Rosie the Riveter Rose is shorter and rounder, it’s called a large-flower floribunda. Laurie further described what that means. “On one stem, there will be several roses that will come, but they have long stems that can be cut and look like a single-stem rose,” she said.
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” wrote William Shakespeare, centuries ago. But most here might agree that calling a rose Rosie the Riveter is sweetly perfect.
More about Rosie the Riveter Park can be found at lbrosie.com. Information about the Spirit of ’45 can be found at spiritof45.org. The U.S. Congressional resolution designating National Rosie the Riveter Day, and supporting statements, can be found at Congress.gov.