After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Naomi Parker, 20, and her sister Ada, 18, got to work at the Alameda Naval Air Station in San Francisco’s East Bay. The sisters were two of the first women to take on the work left by enlisted men, leading the charge for an unprecedented number of females who joined the workforce during World War II.
One day, a photographer snapped an image of Naomi (who later became Parker Fraley) working on a machine, her hair pulled back in a bandana. The photo ultimately became the inspiration for Rosie the Riveter, the iconic “We Can Do It!” symbol of feminism throughout World War II and even today. Although there was a 70-year dispute about the woman behind the real Rosie, Fraley’s true identity was uncovered in 2016 before her death at age 96, reported by the New York Times on January 22.
You can pay homage to the original Rosie and learn more about this important time in American history with a visit to the Rosie the Riveter Memorial/WWII Home Front National Historic Park in Richmond, 18 miles northeast of San Francisco. The free attraction features the memorial, an outdoor art installation with two public gardens, and a Visitor Education Center with interactive exhibits and short documentaries.