The pictures of soldiers sent to war hang like somber Christmas ornaments along tens of thousands of American main streets. They are the millions of working and middle class men and women who have been sent to fight America’s wars. They are a reminder of the elemental patriotism of the American small towns.
One of the ways that’s been incarnated in Moundsville, WV (subject of our PBS film Moundsville) this year was this past weekend’s first annual first annual World War Two History Day at the Cockayne Farmstead put on by the Marshall County Historical Society, and supported by Earl Francis American Legion Post No. 3, Moundsville, the Moundsville Honor Guard, WV Humanities and the Rae Baker Family.
It included presentations, re-enactors, honoring of veterans and a Rosie the Riveter contest. Rosie was a fictional character invented to recruit more women to join the workforce during War War Two.
“We encouraged young and old to dress like Rosie,” town historian Gary Rider told me. “She represented the women of WWII that left their homes to work in factories, on airplanes or other industries. They filled the empty jobs left by the men who went to war, so Homeland production would continue without a break in production. Our contest had a poster minus the iconic image of Rosie. The ladies took up the iconic pose and the one who most exemplified Rosie won.”
The winner: “Allison McGraw who won the WV State Social Studies Fair as a 4th grader. She donned her winning costume and wowed the crowd. The Moundsville Veterans Honor Guard all wanted pictures with her.”
There were other presentations and events. Francis Turner, who presents the toys in our film, showed off the pens that ended World War Two, those used to sign the official surrenders of the Italians and the Germans.
“People in Marshall County are very patriotic and support our veterans past and present,” Rider added. “We believe in patriotism and serving our country and afterwards our community.”