Rosie the Riveter Kisses Barack Obama


The name “Rosie the Riveter” was popularized by the famous war-era posters asking women to support the troops by enlisting to work in physical labor capacities. The term has also been used to refer in general to such women who worked in those capacities. Recently, a collective of such women visited the White House to meet Joe Biden, and Barack Obama surprised them by showing his face as well. One Rosie the Riveter in particular surprised him back by landing a kiss firmly on his lips.

The trip to the White House was organized by one of the women, Phyllis Gould, who felt that they had not been acknowledged fully for their part in the war effort. She had been attempting to make the trip a possibility for at least twelve years before Joe Biden finally gave her and her fellow women the opportunity to give Rosie the Riveter a proper show of respect at the White House. Gould felt it was a relief to finally have their work recognized.

She and other Rosie the Riveter companions told Biden that it was a dream of theirs to meet him. He and Obama invited them to the Oval Office, where each woman was given a hug and a respectable kiss on the cheek. Only one woman felt the desire to take things a step further by kissing Obama on the lips. The President had a good humor about the incident, maintaining his calm, the Mail Online reports.

This was not simply a show meant to placate the women. Biden and Obama paid the women their respects and let them tell of what they saw and did during the war effort to help the troops fighting overseas. The importance of Rosie the Riveter was laid out in full by the women through this meeting. They assisted in the crafting of vehicles, many of them working in various capacities such as steel workers and electricians, work that previous eras would have referred to as “men’s work.”

Rosie the Riveter was an important face for the women off the WWII era, and the real women behind it were equally important to the success of the men fighting the war. Without their efforts, supplies would have dwindled and the war may have turned out very differently. If all one of them in particular asks in return is a kiss from Obama, his willingness is minute in comparison to her works. After so many years of diminished recognition in comparison to that received by other war services, Rosie the Riveter and her flesh-and-blood embodiments have earned some measurable form of honor.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE