Oklahoma’s ’Rosie the Riveter’ Memorial Garden Unveiled
Vol.8 Issue 6
Original "Rosie" (Bertha Owen) and Vice Commander of Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center, Col. Abigail Ruscetta cut the ribbon, officially dedicating the Rosie the Riveter Memorial Garden

During the 1940’s, when many men enlisted in the military and left to go to war, there became a shortage in the industrial labor force. Women began filling the empty jobs which were traditionally performed by the men. Many began working in factories and shipyards, some producing munitions and war supplies. Women transitioned from being homemakers to highly skilled breadwinners. More than 6 million women held jobs during World War II. These efforts helped create a strong advancement toward equal rights for women.

"Rosie the Riveter" is partially based on a real-life munitions worker, but was primarily a fictitious character. The iconic image of a bandanna-clad, stout Rosie became one of the most successful recruitment tools in American history. This recruitment campaign helped to change the workplace forever, as women began to expand their roles in the workforce. This female patriotism continues today.

On Friday, August 12, the Air & Space Forces Association (AFA) Gerrity Chapter unveiled the Central Oklahoma Rosie the Riveter Memorial Garden at the Oklahoma Tourism Center in Midwest City across from Tinker Air Force Base. Many hearts and hands assisted with planning, organizing, and bringing the unveiling ceremony to fruition.

Temporary sign in front of the new Rosie the Riveter Memorial Garden in Midwest City, Oklahoma, near Tinker Air Force Base
Canceled Rosie the Riveter Stamp, circa 1999

More than twenty-five modern-day "Rosies" from Tinker Air Force Base (AFB) joined original "Rosie" (Bertha Owen) and Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center Vice Commander and guest speaker Col. Abigail Ruscetta to cut the ribbon, officially dedicating the site. The Chapter selected this day because of its proximity to Spirit of ’45 Day (August 14) - a day that recognizes the achievements and positive values of the men and women who were the "ordinary heroes" of the generation that endured, fought, and won World War II.

Over the last year, an FAA employee, Nicole Owens, working as an Operations Research Analyst in Financial Services, has overseen the design and installation of the garden, and is now working on a design for a permanent sign with the goal of commissioning a local artist or vendor to fabricate this sign. The sign will include a QR code which will lead visitors to a Central Oklahoma Rosie the Riveter Memorial Garden page on the Chapter’s website. The page will contain more details about the garden and will be a central repository of stories of the ’Rosies’ who worked at Tinker AFB. Nicole is working with a few local families and is collaborating with an Oklahoma Liaison to the American Rosie the Riveter Association in capturing stories that have appeared in state publications over the years.

In order to contribute to the perpetual maintenance of the garden, donations will be taken through the AFA Gerrity Chapter website.

The unveiling ceremony was recently shared on a local KOCO news broadcast.

Federal Aviation Aministration (FAA) seal