Owens Commemorates ’Rosie the Riveter’ with Rose Garden
Vol.8 Issue 3

During Women’s History Month and on National Rosie the Riveter Day (March 21), Nicole Owens, an employee of the Payroll Analysis Team under the Air Traffic Organization, led a groundbreaking ceremony for the Central Oklahoma Rosie the Riveter Memorial Garden.

Nicole is a lifetime member of the Air Force Association since serving in the United States Air Force (1982-1995). She joined the local Central Oklahoma Gerrity Chapter in 2015 and immediately volunteered to redesign their inactive website and become the organization’s Vice President for Communications. Nicole created an engaging website and helped to bring in new members and better promote the chapter’s mission of education while advocating for and supporting the members of the United States Air Force (USAF), as well as the United States Space Force (USSF). Her efforts include promoting science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education programs throughout the state of Oklahoma and bringing awareness of Tinker Air Force Base’s impact to the community.

As part of honoring the legacy of the men and women who have supported the USAF and USSF locally and across the U.S., the Chapter chose to join the Spirit of ’45’s campaign. This campaign created a national network of rose gardens featuring a new official "Rosie the Riveter Rose" to recognize the contributions of courageous women known as "Rosies". Nicole, a "Rosie" in her own right, being a hobbyist gardener, volunteered to lead the project.

Nicole, pictured 3rd from the right, with other members of the Air Force Association’s Central Oklahoma Gerrity Chapter

During World War II, Tinker’s industrial plant repaired B-24 and B-17 bombers and fitted B-29s for combat. In 1946, Tinker was expanded to include the Douglas Aircraft plant, which produced approximately half of the C-47 Skytrains that were used in World War II.

The garden groundbreaking is the start of a project to honor the bold women who stepped up to the plate on the home-front during World War II. They were known as "Rosies" based on Rosie the Riveter, star of the campaign aimed at recruiting women into the defense industry workforce and to work at depots and plants like Midwest Air Depot, as it was known in 1941 before being renamed Tinker Field in 1945.

A year ago, Nicole organized a clean-up day with base and chapter volunteers to clean out dead and diseased plants. She then commissioned a plan with a local landscaper, estimated the cost, began fundraising, pre-ordered a dozen rose bushes and was able to receive a financial advance from the Tinker Heritage Foundation to move forward with the project.

The landscaping will place Rosie the Riveter roses at the center in a custom-built, walnut-stained, raised cedar bed against a backdrop of native grasses. Focusing on plants that are native to Oklahoma, a variety of native sages, a few of the existing crape myrtles, and native Black-eyed Susans will surround the raised bed of roses (the centerpiece of the design).

Hardscape that echoes the flagstone facing of the visitor center will border the bed along with a dry creek bed to help with drainage. Nicole is looking forward to unveiling the garden at a dedication ceremony which is tentatively scheduled for Sunday, August 14 (Spirit of ’45 Day), celebrating the Spirit of shared sacrifice, service, and national unity of the "ordinary heroes" of America’s Greatest Generation on the 76th anniversary of their Greatest Day.

To learn more about ’Rosie the Riveter Memorial Rose Gardens’ that are celebrated nationwide visit the gardens according to state. Memorial Rose Gardens first started in Richmond, California where the first Rosie roses were planted at the Memorial by the National Park Service on the first National Rosie the Riveter Day on March 21, 2018.

We Can Do It! Rosie The Riveter
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