I read with interest the April 5 letter by Nicole Cox of Cumberland, which interpreted the depiction of Rosie the Riveter as a Muslim woman, in a hijab, by two girls at the Portland Arts and Technology High School as “infring(ing) on this American icon.”
Women in Ms. Cox’s family worked in the shipyards during World War II, of which she is justly proud and for whom she feels reverence. My family also is proud of its history during that time. My father served in the European Theater during the war, and he and my mother did not see each other for 27 months. The grace and perseverance with which they handled that difficult, though meaningful, time have always been important to my family.
Rosie the Riveter is indeed an icon, one of the women stepping up and proudly doing what needs to be done in a difficult time. I guess that is why I was delighted to see the T-shirts with the image of Rosie depicted as a Muslim woman in a hijab, because it shows a new image of an American woman stepping up.
My daughter attends the University of Maine, and two of her closest friends there are Somali Muslim women. Their families came here as refugees, and as I have gotten to know them, I see them as hardworking and tough, having survived situations I am glad to have been spared and attending college to prepare themselves to have productive lives here in America.
I am delighted to have new women join the Rosie the Riveter family, women who have also grappled with challenges. It brings Rosie and all she means to mind, and it shows that new American women also bring hard work and gifts to the table.