The American Rosie Movement

wiel lenders speech at Gilmer County High school 

Ladies and gentlemen,

The Freedom Museum focuses attention on the history of the Rosies on an ongoing and high-quality basis, through exhibitions, lectures, music performances, and much more.

Why? you may ask.

The answer is as simple as it is significant: it has everything to do with the essence of who we are or to put it in historical museum terms, with our mission statement.

The Freedom Museum is a historical educational museum that tells the cross-border and multi-perspective story of War and Freedom without Borders for young and old. The focus is on World War Two, in the context of the history of the twentieth century and current events. From various perspectives, the human dilemmas and unknown stories of civilians and soldiers are depicted for visitors. And there is never just one story.

In regard to the Rosies theme, two “targets” are crucial to our museum storyline. First of all, we are always on the lookout for hidden histories that are often quite important. We feel that these stories should be brought to light because they complete the historical picture and help us really understand the past. We do not have to take the well-trodden paths of our knowledge: it is precisely the unknown, rugged, and often inaccessible historical landscape that is much more interesting. Secondly, when we illuminate hidden or lesser-known subjects from the past, this also clarifies how we came to be where we are today. In other words, it positively contributes to today’s critical citizenship.

With regard to the Rosies, this means that in addition to the military-based masculine role in the history of the war and liberation, we also want to highlight the much less known and hidden female and multicultural roles. After all, their contribution is not just a footnote in history, and anyone who makes such a claim has really been let down by their education system.

In any case, with the liberation, a great diversity of men and women from all Allied countries gave us back the democratic system. And for this, we are eternally grateful to them. After all, so many sacrifices were made to afford Western Europe the opportunity to build a free society after the war. The value of this legacy of freedom and the democratic constitutional state cannot be overstated.

I cherish the warm relationship we have with the ‘Thanks! Plain and Simple’ organization and, of course, with all the Rosies still with us today. What an honor and pleasure. After all, this organization and the Rosies are doing a fantastic job: they protect society at large from collective amnesia. And we, as a museum, stand side by side with them.

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for your time.

Drs. Wiel P. H. Lenders, director Freedom Museum

Groesbeek/ Netherlands

This program was made possible by funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities special initiative, A More Perfect Union, through the West Virginia Humanities Council. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations do not necessarily represent those of the West Virginia Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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