The woman who is said to be the real-life inspiration for Rosie the Riveter has passed away, and people are paying tribute by putting a modern spin on the archetypal World War II factory worker.
Naomi Parker Fraley, whose 1942 photograph while working in a naval shipyard at age 20 launched a world-famous image, died last weekend at 96 in Longview, WA.
“Anybody would want a mother like mine,” her son Joe Blankenship said of his mother to KGW8 News. “She believed that we were all equal. She would tell me that, ‘You are better than nobody. But nobody is better than you.’” He said his mother had at times been a single parent who worked waitressing jobs to support her family.
There has been some controversy about the "real" Rosie the Riveter, with many people believing it was a different woman until recently. In 2016, professor James J. Kimble at Seton Hall University published detailed findings in the journal Rhetoric & Public Affairs saying the photo of Fraley was behind the iconic "We Can Do It!" poster created by graphic artist J. Howard Miller.
Fraley was born in Tulsa, OK, and was among the first women to work at the Naval Air Station in Alameda, CA, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. She was part of a wave of millions of American women who went to work during WWII. A press photographer approached Fraley to take a photo during her shift, her daughter-in-law Marnie Blankenship told KATU2.
Women across the country are honoring Fraley and Rosie by posting their own versions of the WWII poster, which with their diversity reflect how America has changed since 1942.
Rosie attended the Women's March this year:
Rosie is a woman of color:
Rosie is a 12-year-old scientist and inventor:
Rosie knows how to rock a cat-eye:
Rosie is in our little girls (this photo was taken before Fraley died, but shows how far her reach is):
Rosie 100% lives on in 2018:
“It wasn’t about her. It was about thousands of women in the war effort and thereafter,” Joe Blankenship said. “She was a human. And she liked people. She just believed we should all just get along.”
In September 2016, Fraley told People magazine that while she didn't care about being famous, she was glad her likeness was making a positive impact on women. "The women of this country these days need some icons," she said. "If they think I'm one, I'm happy about that."