Few images from mid-century America are as iconic as that of Rosie the Riveter, the determined bandana-adorned beauty rolling up her sleeves and ready for action. At a time when women were generally portrayed in heels and bearing a chilled post-work martini for the man of the house, Rosie became the poster girl for putting on some pants and getting down and dirty in the name of patriotism.
Behind the character of Rosie the Riveter was a real-life Rose the riveter; Rose Will Monroe worked as a riveter on B-24 planes during World War I at the Willow Run Aircraft Factory (pictured below) in Ypsilanti, Mich.
The facility, west of Detroit, was owned by Ford Motor Co, which switched from making cars to planes for the war. During its time as a plane plant, 40,000 workers, including Monroe, built nearly 9,000 B-24 Liberator bombers there to help win the war.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons, 1942-1943
When the production of planes was no longer required, General Motors took over the plant until it ceased production for good. The site has been slated for demolition, but a group of preservationists are eagerly hoping to save part of the facility to erect a museum honoring Detroit's role as the "Arsenal of Democracy."
The Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response Trust, a group set up to manage the properties owned by General Motors, had given the Save the Bomber Plant campaign until Aug. 1 to raise the $8 million needed to preserve 175,000 square feet of the plant; the group hopes to convert the space to build a new home for the nearby Yankee Air Museum.
As of now, the fundraisers have collected an admirable but insufficient $4.5 million, falling short of the required sum. But this week the trust announced that it will extend the deadline until Oct. 1, saying that the campaign's "success and momentum" warranted the extension.
"The RACER Trust has been extremely supportive of Yankee Air Museum and this initiative," said Dennis Norton, the Yankee Air Museum's founder. "We're grateful to be able to continue working toward our goal of preserving a portion of the former bomber plant to tell the Arsenal of Democracy story and how Americans, men and women of all races, came together to not just build aircraft needed to win World War II, but to change the country forever."
For more information and to make a donation, visit savethebomberplant.org.
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