Friday, June 29, 2012

Soldiers without Guns: Women Defense Workers in WWII

I love a good first person re-enactor. A good re-enactor can make you feel as if you have just traveled back in time. They make you feel as if you have met the person they are teaching you about. As a history buff, I have been enthralled by their stories. I often quiz them about their lives. I always learn something from them and feel an attachment in a way that simply reading about the "person" or watching a movie cannot do. I become engaged with their lives.

Over the years I have engaged with Stacy Roth in this manner. She has programs as part of her "History on the Hoof" business. A great way for a local organization to hire her is through a Horizon Speakers Program grant available from NJCH for such a purpose. We have seen Stacy as Molly Pitcher, and as a refined 18th centuryb lady educating us 20th century people about tea. Most recently, I saw her in overalls and a red bandanna as "Rosie the Riveter" in hyer "Soldiers without Guns: Women Defense Workers in WWII" program. 

Technically, this was my second time seeing her as Rosie. The first time was at Peachfield a month earlier. I got lost. I got very lost. By the time I found Peachfield, Stacy was almost finished. She told me should would be reprising her role at the First Presbyterian Church of Woodbury Heights -- not far from Don's office. We all went. Ashley was asked to demonstrate the outfit welders would have worn. It was a bit big on her.

Stacy brought that era to life. All able women took jobs in order to free up the men so they could go off to fight the enemy. In "her" case she learned how to be a welder. Other women drove buses, made deliveries and took other jobs traditionally held by men. After her presentation, members of the audience were encouraged to share stories about their lives (or the lives of their parents) during WWII.

Her presentation made me think about life in America now.  We've been fighting a war in Afghanistan and Iraq for over a decade. Few Americans are making enormous sacrifices. Many are making no real sacrifices. Back in the 1940s, scrap metal was collected to make weapons. People made do with what they had. They grew Victory Gardens. The war was huge news. Everyone did their part for the good of the country. Today most of us don't have that same connection. Personally I know one person who was killed in action (David Weigle) -- the son of our former pastor. I know of a few others who have or who are serving. Most days pass without my giving that part of the globe a moment's thought. I think that is true for most (not all, of course) of the people I know.

It is a different time. 

We still need to support our soldiers, our vets and their families. They have many needs. 

I do not wish enormous sacrifices on our part, nor did I start writing this planning to turn it into a political statement. 

Thank a soldier, a vet, or their family today and every day.

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