Once a 'Rosie the Riveter' during WWII, today 94-year-old Mae Krier is making Rosie-themed face masks to help fight the pandemic.
When Mae Krier was 17 years old, she took a job at a Boeing factory in Seattle in the midst of World War II, joining millions of other American women filling critical labor shortages at factories and shipyards after the male workers left to fight overseas. Today, at 94, she's stepped up to help the country overcome another crisis by making fabric face masks to help prevent the spread of coronavirus — and, to pay tribute to the heroic women of WWII, her masks are in the polka dot fabric of Rosie the Riveter's iconic bandana! "This virus is actually like another war, and we’ve gotta pull together if we’re gonna conquer it," Krier asserts. "We did it, and we can do it."
Krier left her hometown in North Dakota in 1943 to build B-17s and B-29 bombers, like many 'Rosie the Riveters' around the country. An iconic poster of one of these factory workers, wearing a polka-dot bandana and proclaiming "We can do it!" has since become an emblem of both women's contributions during wartime and women empowerment. However, after the war, gratitude to the real-life Rosies quickly faded.
"After the war, the men came home to flying flags and parades, and Rosie came home with a pink slip. It really wasn’t fair," observes Krier. To make sure these women are given the recognition they deserve, Krier, who lives in Levittown, Pennsylvania, has been actively supporting a campaign to grant the Rosies a Congressional Gold Medal, America's highest civilian honor. With most surviving Rosies in their 90s, Krier says the recognition is urgently needed: "This gold medal is important because right now we’re still living history. In a little while, we’ll just be a page in the history books.”
When the pandemic struck, Krier realized that she could help fill a critical need for masks while raising awareness about the Congressional Gold Medal campaign. She started making fabric face masks in Rosie the Riveter's iconic polka-dotted fabric and her story soon spread. "Someone put it on Facebook and it’s sky-rocketed," she says. To date, Krier's made over 300 masks herself but, with over 1,600 new mask requests and more coming in all the time, she's now recruiting others to help, including sewing groups who can help prep masks for her. She's also accepting donations of fabric and supplies from around the country. A Facebook page dedicated to the campaign for the Congressional Gold Medal, Honor Rosie, is now managing requests for masks and offers to volunteer or donate fabric.
She's also encouraging everyone inspired by her mask sewing efforts to support the legislation to honor Rosies by calling their Senators and asking them to support S.892, the Rosie the Riverter Congressional Gold Medal Act. A bill supporting the Congressional Gold Medal for Rosies successfully passed the House last fall; a Senate version of the bill was sponsored by Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania but currently needs more support to pass the Senate. Krier also hopes that everyone will do their part to help end the pandemic, observing that wearing fabric masks to protect your health and that of other people is a minor inconvenience compared to the welding masks that she and her colleagues used to wear while working on planes during WWII.
Krier is optimistic, however, that the country will rise to meet this new crisis. “People are great. They'll do what has to be done,” she observes. “When World War II was declared, every man, woman and child just dropped everything and did what it took to save our country. It wasn't my job or your job; it was our job.” And, like the Rosies of WWII, Krier wants to ensure that the people making sacrifices to work for the good of the nation today — the essential workers from doctors and nurses to grocery store clerks and postal carriers — also get the recognition they deserve. "I call them our new, modern Rosie the Riveters, because they’re doing what we did," she says. "They work day and night to save people."
Books, toys, and Clothing Celebrating Rosie the Riveter
She can do it — especially when she has this plush Rosie the Riveter at her side! This 11" doll from the Unemployed Philosophers Guild reproduces the classic look of this WWII role model and modern feminist icon in high quality plush fabric. She comes with a detachable tag that features the classic Rosie the Riveter portrait and includes interesting facts about the history and ongoing impact of this inspiring character — the perfect choice to encourage anyone to reach for their dreams! For a smaller option, check out this Rosie the Riveter Finger Puppet / Magnet.
She'll be telling the world "We Can Do It!" in this awesome costume that pays tribute to the iconic Rosie the Riveter! This set from Princess Paradise includes a jumpsuit with a front zipper and high quality trim and patches and a classic polka-dotted headwrap that will make her look just like Rosie. You can also get this Rosie costume set for ages 7 to 14 or these Rosie the Riveter costume accessories for ages 9 and up. For a version for the littlest Rosies, check out this Rosie the Riveter newborn costume.
Generations of women have been inspired Rosie the Riveter, who has been an icon of women's empowerment for over fifty years! This 5 1/4" tall vinyl action figure is based off the famous "We Can Do It!" poster, which was inspired by a photo of Naomi Parker Fraley; it has articulated joints and comes in an illustrated window box. She's great for pretend play or for anyone who appreciates the role Rosie the Riveter has played in women's history.
The iconic image of a woman in wartime is Rosie the Riveter, the symbol of the women who stepped into male roles in manufacturing when the men left for war. Author Penny Colman tells the amazing story of how 18 million women — many of whom had never held a job — stepped into vacated positions between 1942 and 1945 to support the war effort. The movement was necessary at the time just to keep factories running, but the impact of those three years rang through the decades after, as society’s and women’s attitudes about what women were capable of were changed forever.
Here's to the doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals — we know that they can do it! This shirt from the Ann Arbor T-Shirt Company reimagines the feminist icon Rosie the Riveter in medical scrubs. This preshrunk 50% polyester, 25% ring spun cotton, and 25% rayon shirt was designed and made in the USA, and is available in women's sizes small to 2XL. If you prefer the original Rosie, the same company makes this Rosie the Riveter shirt.
Tell her "We Can Do It!" with these yellow Rosie the Riveter crew socks by Socksmith. The iconic image of women’s strength and capability cuts a dramatic figure on these 70% cotton, 27% nylon, 3% lycra socks. With these to keep her on her toes, she’ll feel ready for anything! You can also get the same print on a black background, or this pair of We Can Do It Socks featuring a pattern of the classic poster.
The We Can Do It! image of Rosie the Riveter has become a cultural icon in America — and now it can inspire you! Celebrate women's history with this reproduction print of the classic Rosie image by J. Howard Miller. This 24 by 36 inch print is the perfect way to inspire Mighty Girls — and women — to continue to strive for their dreams!