Friday, November 14, 2014

Honoring Our Veterans By Telling Their Stories

Did you thank a veteran on Veterans Day?

To all who are serving and have served in our country's military, we thank you and honor you. As the song says, we can "sleep in peace tonight" because you do what you do. We can't thank you enough.

GranFran and I had the privilege of sharing several times during the week surrounding Veterans Day.  We were invited to Corner School, where Librarian Jennifer Harris led the way to provide an AWESOME program and breakfast honoring veterans, then we spoke to their fifth and sixth grades.

That night, we attended the National Veterans Day dinner in Birmingham (which is the birthplace of Veterans Day, BTW), where Mother sat at the head table as the founder of the American Rosie the Riveter Association.

On Veterans Day itself, GranFran was on the program for the Senior Adult Veterans Day Lunch at Dawson Baptist Church in Birmingham. Her part was presented as an onstage interview with Channel 13's news anchor, Mike Royer.

And the next day, we had a different kind of treat - she was asked to speak to second graders from Trace Crossings Elementary at Samford University School of Education's Centennial Day, a day of learning and special activities about education in the last 100 years. She told them her experiences as a first-year teacher in rural Mississippi in 1942 - she was 20 years old with two years of college, teaching on a World War II "defense certificate," with 52 students in Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grades.

It was a busy but happy week, honoring our veterans and telling the Rosie story! (Did I mention that GranFran is 92?)

Saturday, November 1, 2014

They did it! They saved the Willow Run building!

    Imagine a huge, mile-long building with tens of thousands of workers - including lots of Rosie the Riveter women - working 24 hours a day to make one main thing for the war effort - B-24 airplanes, known as Liberator Bombers. That was Willow Run Bomber Plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan in the 1940's.
    The 2014 plan was to tear down the huge building, which hasn't been used in many years. But the Yankee Air Museum has officially bought part of the building - the end with the huge bay doors where the finished planes rolled out and took off on the runway - and plan to move the museum there. Read about the sale here.
    It wasn't easy to buy the building, though. It took years of fundraising to secure the 8 million dollars that was needed. And GUESS WHO helped with that effort? The women! Well, the Yankee Air Museum does a lot to include the role of the women - the Rosies - in their displays, and the women had a heart to help.
     Recently, 776 women and girls dressed as Rosie the Riveter and set a record for the Guinness Book of World Records for "The Largest Gathering of People Dressed as Rosie the Riveter." Don't you know that was a fun event?! And they raised awareness and money for the effort to Save Willow Run. There were several actual Rosies present who had worked at the Willow Run plant in the 1940's. The look-alikes ranged in age from 97 years old to 3 months old. To qualify for the record, they had to hold their "We Can Do It!" pose for 5 minutes as a group. No problem! The ladies spontaneously sang "God Bless America" and "Yankee Doodle Dandy" to pass the time!
    Here's a 1945 video of how one B-24 plane was produced every 55 minutes at the Willow Run Bomber Plant. Another piece of history preserved!