Hello, my name is Michael Kindred. I am the president of Thanks! Plain and simple. As “Thanks!” prepares for three outstanding events this year—one is a Rosie Summit in Washington at American University, one is our annual Ring a Bell for Rosies event across America and in other countries on Labor Day, and one is to set up a model for American schools to name a room, “The Rosie the Riveter Room,” in October. Each and all of these is an advance in The American Rosie Movement™.
Since becoming a board member in 2014, I have been proud …. and fascinated. . . as “Thanks!” is prepared for a national movement. It’s not always been a straight line of progress—speed bumps and barriers are always there when you do something new. We’ve had to go over, around, and through them. But three things have kept us going.
First, every Rosie and her story counts. You will do yourself a favor if you find a Rosie, get her story, and then be prepared to share it with America. Anne, our fearless founder, and double-time worker sees each Rosie as like a piece in a puzzle—she has her own design and colors, and she should be valued and saved to put into a bigger picture.
Second, when we Americans put all the Rosies stories together, we see themes that are greater than anyone Rosie’s story. We are leading the American Rosie Movement™ with the message that Rosies’ most want the world to know about them. Let me quote one Rosie, Nancy Sipple, who died in 2012.
We pulled together then. We can do it again. It’s our only hope!”
Third, we pull together in a different way – we do what the Rosies did. Place-by-place, we create something that will help the whole effort. So far, we have worked with Rosies to make a park, named bridges for Rosies, created a theme song, held events with Allied Nations and others, and rung bells in many places to wake people up to the value of these women. In short, we don’t just talk or parade, we encourage people to leave something in our communities, our regions, our nation, and the world that makes a statement for the Rosie Legacy™.
The American Rosie Movement is welcomed across many of our differences because people see the need to pull together. But they don’t know how. Anne can tell you the steps we’ve defined to make this happen and what has worked. But I believe this movement will grow and change things because people want new ways. To highlight how different it is, Anne often asks you these questions. Twenty years ago,
Would you ever have thought that a national movement could – and would – star some of the oldest among us? And women? Are they often women of little stature?
Would you ever have thought that people would unify across America to honor these women after the vast majority of them have died?
Would you have thought that people across America and in other nations would join together to do small things to show that people will pull together again, each in a different way?
Would you have thought that people would stop blaming each other in order to build something that shows we can work together to honor old women who have lived over the century that has seen more change than any century in human history?
I’ll wager that the answer to all of these is “No.” Certainly, I would have answered, “No” to these when I first called Anne in about 2014 to see if she had ways to use the meaning of Rosies to attract young women into technical training here in Clark County, Kentucky, just west of Lexington. How could I have imagined that that call would open my mind to what we Americans can do today because we are free to find ways to do what should be done for all of us.
I’m retiring now as an educator and a women’s basketball coach. I’ve lived through some social movements in America—the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam protests, and the women’s empowerment movement, to start. We Americans seem wired to protest—we holler and we cuss, we march and we protest. We are blessed that our freedom allows us to. But, think about this:
Did we keep throwing spitballs at one another when the chips were down and America was attacked? You know the answer. No! We united for the higher cause of protecting freedom.
You are needed. We at “Thanks!” believe that our freedom is precious. And, yes, it’s sometimes fragile.
Now, notice that’s the first time I’ve mentioned, “Yes!” We, humans, are fragile, often when we are afraid. Fear is our enemy. You know the quote I’m thinking of now. FDR’s “We have nothing to fear but fear itself!”
We are blessed with things today that America would have thought were impossible then. Literally, at our fingertips, we can communicate with people across this Good Earth. We have miracles that these women we call Rosies could not have imagined. So, what’s the issue?
The issue is we are yet to learn to use these new freedoms. It’s not just the miracles of technology that make it possible to share work, teaching, communications, the arts, and other human activities. It’s the universal things that give meaning to all of us—human stories, accomplishments, and the joy of creativity.
At this moment, I suspect that you are thinking that I sound like a country boy, and worse, a died-in-the-wool southerner. God forgive me for being proud to say, “I sure am!” But, like most of you, I am American first, and I say we should start creating things that fit into healthier, realistic ways of pulling together—by creating things.
I’m sure I’m not a visionary. I leave that to Anne and her ability to scrunch down while she proves what can be done when we pull together. She’ll deny it, but she is a leader, but not at the top of a pyramid. She’s a leader with a net, pulling in people like you and me to “get it”, get in, and help keep the net growing and in good repair. I believe you see that new kinds of leaders who lead by united effort, not arguments, are needed now.
Take part in the three events this year. Tell people what they mean. Make yourself part of the meaning and the action. For, as we create lasting and visible statements together.
When we plant a tree in Washington on Aug. 15, one of three plaques will be by a WWII vet, “Woody” Williams who has just passed. In 2011, “Woody” was on the board of directors of “Thanks!”, and he joined Rosies as they designed a park they had struggled to get land for, he said, “We did it together!”
This program is made possible by the National Endowment for the Humanities’ special initiative, A More Perfect Union, through the West Virginia Humanities Council for the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations do not necessarily represent those of the West Virginia Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.