COATESVILLE (June 6, 2019) – As the nation marked the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day invasion, state Senator Andy Dinniman was joined by residents and veterans in honoring those who helped support the fight on the home front.
He visited the Coatesville Area Senior Center for a special screening of “Invisible Warriors: African American Women in WWII,” a documentary film that tells the story of the first African American women to work in industry and government administrative service in support of the war effort.
The guest of honor was 97-year-old Ruth Wilson of Philadelphia, one of six living African American “Rosie the Riveters” profiled in the film. When the war broke out, Wilson quit her job as a domestic maid and laundress and became a sheet metal worker in the Philadelphia Navy Yard. There, she helped build the USS Valley Forge, which was subsequently deployed in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars. In fact, the USS Valley Forge launched the first air carrier strike of the Korean War.
“That experience changed my life. The lives of my family and the lives of black women everywhere,” Wilson said recounting her wartime service at the homefront.
Wilson was one of 600,000 black women that built airplanes, aircraft carriers, battleships and worked in government offices. Black “Rosie the Riveters” were part of a sisterhood of 20 million women who built America’s arsenal of democracy, according to the film’s creator, Professor Gregory Cooke of Drexel University. Without all of these women, the United States could not have won World War II.
Dinniman honored Wilson and all those who worked and sacrificed to support the war effort at home, in addition to the many soldiers who fought, sacrificed, and lost their lives in the D-Day invasion.
“This was a team effort and that is really what America is all about, isn’t it?” Dinniman said. “We succeeded by working together and today we honor all the men and women who fought on the D-Day and those who supported the invasion both at home and abroad.
In the film, Wilson and others also discussed how the experience offered the opportunity to learn a trade and become more financially independent, even as they faced Jim Crow, racism, and sexism.
“People need to know what we did and how important it was that we won the war by doing the work men did,” she said.
Dinniman presented Wilson with a special Senate Citation in honor of wartime service on the homefront and also recognized several other local veterans who were in attendance.
“We must never forget the stories of the Greatest Generation just as we must continue to strive to live up to their example,” Dinniman said. “I’ve no doubt that we can get much further as a nation by embracing the values of our elders and working together for a common goal.”