Contra Costa Times
Editorial Lauds Rosie the Riveter WW II Home Front
National Historical Park
September 08, 2006
The West County times followed up its news coverage earlier this week with an editorial that applauded “…all of the elected officials, business and community leaders who worked so hard to create the park and convinced the National Park Service of its historical significance not only to Richmond, but to the entire nation.”
In a related matter, there are plans afoot to revive Richmond’s currently defunct “Festival by the Bay” or “Multicultural Festival” starting in fall 2007 with the “Richmond Home Front Festival” that will have a theme that is truly unique to Richmond and is expected to attract regional, if not national, attention. It is expected that a large number of public, private and non-profit organizations, including the City of Richmond, the Richmond Chamber of Commerce, the Richmond Visitors and Convention Bureau, the National Park Service, Rosie the Riveter Trust and others will pool resources to make it happen.
Also attached is a National Park Service study summarizing the benefits of the National Park Service and national parks to gateway communities. It is very interesting in light of the fact that Richmond is both a gateway community (by distance, visitors could easily access John Muir National Historic Site, Eugene O'Neill National Historic Site, and Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial, which are all in Contra Costa County and when the ferry returns, Golden Gate National Recreation Area and San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park are a ferry-ride away). More compelling is the fact that the City of Richmond is Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park. It would appear by the numbers in the attached report that there is huge unrealized potential for the city and local businesses if we can find a way to capture the visitor's imagination.
CONGRATULATIONS ARE in order. Richmond's Rosie the Riveter Park, a monument to the city of Pride and Purpose's vital role in the World War II effort, is a finalist for the National League of Cities Municipal Excellence Award.
The honor is given to outstanding programs that demonstrate innovative public-private partnerships. Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Park is one of 57 nominated finalists in the midsize city category, and the only candidate from Contra Costa County.
With so many grim headlines coming out of Richmond these days, it's far too easy to forget the city's rich history.
Rosie the Riveter Park, which opened to the public in 2003, will remind future generations of what park organizers call, the "rich historical sacrifice, patriotism, technology, organization, leadership and social interaction," that Richmond embodied during the war years.
During the early '40s, Richmond's population swelled from 20,000 to 100,000 people as rural blacks fleeing Jim Crow, migrated from the south to work in Richmond's factories and the Kaiser shipyards.
Sharecroppers and farmers were retrained as welders and factory equipment operators.
Meanwhile, with many of the men away at war, women were pouring into the workforce, taking over factory jobs that were once the exclusive domain of men. Rosie the Riveter became the archetype of this strong, patriotic, gutsy woman.
Someone had to look after the children while the women worked. That led to the creation of the first government-funded day care facilities in the country.
Factory workers needed medical care to stay healthy and productive. The nation's first HMO, which would later become Kaiser Permanente, came into being. Fittingly, the park celebrates workplace diversity, as well as the country's first group medical care and day care.
Rosie the Riveter Park sits on the 150-acre site that once housed the booming shipyards and factories that supported the war effort.
The National Park Service manages the park, which consists of nine sites that have wartime significance. Those include, Terminal 3, the home of the Red Oak Victory Ship, the Ford Assembly building, which converted from making cars to Jeeps; and the Rosie the Riveter memorial, a stainless steel sculpture that looks like a ship's hull.
We applaud all of the elected officials, business and community leaders who worked so hard to create the park and convinced the National Park Service of its historical significance not only to Richmond, but to the entire nation.
The awards will be announced in December at the League's Congress of Cities and Exposition in Reno, Nev. We wish Richmond the best of luck.