ten-10-dollar-billOn a lighter note, the candidates in the latest Republican Presidential Debate were asked, “What woman would you like to see on the $10 bill?” as the Treasury Department plans this change. 

The answers were very plausible and personal for the most part.  They ranged from Susan B. Anthony and Clara Barton, to Mother Theresa and Britain’s Margaret Thatcher, to Abigail Adams and Rosa Parks, to keeping Alexander Hamilton there for relevance and stability as the main author of America’s financial system.

The candidates were under the pressure of time and the glare of lights, of course.  So we offer another thought – one the Treasury Department should closely consider.   She is Rosie the Riveter, the famous name given to the women who worked in the industrial factories of America in World War II.

Rosie – and the millions of women working the home front, assembling the goods of the manufacturing sector, giving us our uniforms and bombers and everything between – made a selfless commitment to country for years.  More than 310,000 women alone worked in the U.S. aircraft industry in 1943, making up 65 percent of the industry’s total workforce.

Primarily a fictitious character, the strong, bandanna-clad Rosie became the most iconic image of working women in the World War II era.   She was in movies, newspapers, posters, photographs and articles.  Normal Rockwell’s iconic May 29, 1943 Saturday Evening Post image of Rosie with a flag in the background and a copy of Adolf Hitler’s racist tract “Mein Kampf” under her feet may be the most famous.  But her prototype was created in 1942 on a featured poster for Westinghouse under the headline “We Can Do It!”  And once an early 1943 popular song called “Rosie the Riveter” debuted, the name went down in history.

The “Rosie’s” of America worked around the clock for America.   We would not have won the war without the force of their unremitting 24-hour three-shift factory work and constant wartime production.   The America of today is still largely the product of the Second World War securing the peace, progress, and prosperity that has led the world for the last 70 years.

Putting Rosie on the $10 bill would somehow connect the dollar to work again.   The dollar would be more sacrosanct by creating a tie back to the notion of labor.   Rosie celebrates not only women, but also the need to produce.   Her symbolic presence would counter the currency as a ticket for the river (and flow) of consumption in a consumer and now, worrisomely, growing dependent society. 

Rosie was healthy for society then, and Rosie is a healthy symbol for society today.   We have paid tribute to the men who make up the World War II generation.   Are not the women who fought and labored so mightily in World War II equally worthy of the “The Greatest Generation” name?

George Washington was the first face to go on the dollar since as a national figure and symbol he stood first.   The first choice of a woman matters as much.   We have many wonderful female leaders and reformers across our historical landscape, but Rosie is ensconced in our historical tradition at a level that exceeds the unique deeds of individual female leaders and reformers.

Rosie is a historical symbol of the strength of our national womanhood.   She honors our history and purpose as a nation and is woven 100% into its very fabric.  She calls forth why we are a great nation, would give us new appreciation for our money, help us see the dollar as a generating rather than a distributive and spending tool, and discipline and anchor our currency, once more, to integrity.  She is also the most apt female replacement for Alexander Hamilton.

All the suggestions are good ones, but The Public Square believes Rosie “fits the bill” best.