Sunday, April 06, 2014
I've been wondering just why Phyllis Gould -- whose persistence with successive presidential administrations over many years sent her pleas for recognition to the White Houses of Presidents Bill Clinton (twice), and George Bush (twice), but in the Obama years, only through the highest ranking white person in the administration, Vice-President Joe Biden? Is it really possible to "dis" the Leader of the Free World and have it go unnoticed? Apparently so. I suspect racism rising from the entitlement that goes with white privilege, but it was just a fleeting glance of an idea -- and I suspect it rose from envy. But why Joe Biden and not the President whose grandmother had served as a "Rosie" at Douglas Aircraft during WWII? What other explanation could there possibly be?
Then I remembered that I'd written a post on April 23, 2004, when invited to Washington as a member of the delegation seeking congressional support for our park. Our superintendent was Judy Hart at the time, and I was acting as a consultant to the park under development. We were to testify before Congress, I believe, and I was to be the guest of Rep. George Miller. It would have been my chance to visit the White House, right?
|Has there ever been a more awkward embrace?|
I refused to participate explaining that I did not accept George Bush as my president, and therefore would not attend. It was shortly after the Supremes selected him to be our president after the debacle of the Florida challenges. Of course, it wasn't racism, but was it any more justified than the suspicions I'm laying on Phyllis? Could it be simply that I was uncomfortable with there being only white women in this delegation, and no women of color -- for whatever reason? The National Park Service would surely have preferred this were not so, but it was a private adventure, so there was no choice in who those representatives would be. But this delegation surely was an accurate representation of life as it was lived in the WWII era. Being historically correct is painful, even when that is not what was intended. These things are really complex, and often tainted by hidden factors.
It may be enlightening to check the archives for that post of 2004 (see the archives for post of April 23rd).
I don't know the answer, but the fact that I've made such a big thing of rejecting the label of "Rosie the Riveter," declaring that this was a white woman's story and not mine, may be a contributing element in this twisted tale. I would have only agreed to go as a ranger, and even now -- would surely not have attended as a Rosie had I been invited.
There, I've said it. Feels better to not have to carry such feelings around in coming weeks. I like these women, and am genuinely happy for their good fortune. It must have been a glorious week for them!
And -- tomorrow two huge Semi's will arrive from the East Coast. They'll pull up to unload the permanent exhibits -- and we'll be opening another chapter in the development of Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park.
The Blues, the Envy, Climate Change and Rising Sea Levels will all be forgotten as we embark on the next round of park development!
I can hardly wait!
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