By Carolyn Marnon – As a bagpiper played “Amazing Grace,” people attending the dedication of the new Rosie Rose Garden in front of the Wayne Historical Museum milled around the lawn. At the predetermined time, Wayne Historical Society Immediate Past President Ann Zimmerman welcomed everyone, including several original Rosies, the Wayne Mayor and several councilpersons and members of the Wayne Garden Club for attending.
This past spring, the American Rosie the Riveter Association (ARRA) planted 100 rose bushes across Michigan. Each rose bush honors a World War II Rosie. “Like it’s namesake, this rose bush is strong, hardy and beautiful,” said Jeannette Gutierrez of the Rose Bush Project team, ARRA-Willow Run Chapter, referring to the special roses called Rosie the Riveter floribunda. Five of these rose bushes were planted in the new garden in front of the Wayne Historical Museum.
“A lot of people don’t know that my grandmother Wilda Hauser, who was a Wayne resident, worked as a riveter at Willow Run also,” Mayor John Rhaesa told those assembled on June 18. “And she got hurt early on in her career doing that and wound up after that doing dog tags for the soldiers.” This statement was the first that led up to the many ways women helped in the war effort in the 1940s.
“Rosie wasn’t just a riveter,” said Jeannette. “Rosie the Riveter is an important figure in our nation’s history. She was any woman who stepped up to do a man’s job during World War II while the men and boys were off to war. Rosie was a factory-worker, a farmhand, she was an elevator operator and a streetcar conductor. She was an office worker, a clerk, even a pro baseball player and a big band musician.
Rosie the Riveter also represents the many American women who volunteered: the Red Cross workers, … the nurse cadets, USO entertainers, and more. America and her allies could not have achieved victory in World War II without the Rosie the Riveters and the millions of planes, … guns and ships that they produced.”
Wayne residents Alice and Robert Webb were thanked for sponsoring each of the bushes in the new rose garden. Robert’s mom was a Rosie at Willow Run. Also thanked were the Wayne Historical Society for providing a home for the garden and for preserving the legacy of Rosie for future generations and the ARRA planting team. “We have proved once again that We Can Do It!” exclaimed Jeannette.
Three original Rosies attended the ceremony. Anna Timmerman worked at Stinson Aircraft in Wayne making little planes they called grasshoppers. Clara Doutly worked at Briggs Manufacturing in Detroit on the B-29 bombers. Jane Biestek worked at the Ford Rouge plant making parts for the B-24.
Each rose bush throughout the state recognizes an individual Rosie. Family members and friends of a Rosie came up to speak about each of the women the rose bushes were dedicated to at the conclusion of the ceremony.
As Ann mentioned at the beginning of the program, “The roses are full of potential, just like we are.”