Local group to give valentines to veterans

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published January 29, 2019

 The Eastern Michigan Women Ordnance Workers chapter of the American Rosie the Riveter Association is creating valentines for local veterans to thank them for their service and to show appreciation and support.

The Eastern Michigan Women Ordnance Workers chapter of the American Rosie the Riveter Association is creating valentines for local veterans to thank them for their service and to show appreciation and support.

Photo provided by Bette Kenward

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EASTPOINTE — A small token of appreciation or respect can mean a lot to a veteran, and the Eastern Michigan Women Ordnance Workers chapter of the American Rosie the Riveter Association are working to make their Valentine’s Day a bit brighter. 

Volunteers with the organization will be making valentines for local veterans, taking inspiration from the women workers of World War II who pitched in and worked hard to support the armed forces.

“My grandmother was a real Rosie the Riveter — a woman ordnance worker during the war,” explained Bette Kenward, the president of Eastern Michigan WOW of the American Rosie the Riveter Association. “I am trying to keep that legacy alive for her and those like her. We became a chapter at the end of last September and we only had our first meeting in November.”

The group will be putting the valentines together at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, at the Michigan Military Technical and Historical Society, located at 16600 Stephens Road.

“They will be decorating them and writing messages in them. They are similar to some given in the 1940s, but individualized for those taking part,” Kenward said. “We get together at the museum once a month, and we thought it would be a wonderful thing to get together and make valentines for veterans. … We will meet with some of the vets and give them the valentines as a sign of appreciation.”

They will be taking the valentines to the Vets Returning Home center on Gratiot Avenue near 11 Mile Road. They brought handmade Christmas ornaments to the same location during the holidays. Kenward also is talking to some other local veterans organizations to see if they are interested in participating.

“Anytime that they get that kind of support and recognition from the community — because they can often feel like they’ve been forgotten, even after all the sacrifices they’ve made for their country — this is so uplifting for them,” said Sandy Bower, the volunteer director of Vets Returning Home.

Kenward and her fellow members of the Eastern Michigan Women Ordnance Workers chapter of the American Rosie the Riveter Association are hoping to start having a real presence in the community.

“We have an office on the west side of southeast Michigan, and now we have an office on the east side. What I’m doing is keeping the legacy alive of all the Rosies. They weren’t just riveters — they did so many things. It can be hard for people on this side of town to get out to the Willow Run museum out on the west side. Rosie was not just a symbol of women’s liberation, but when you meet these women, they were such remarkable people, and we are trying to keep their legacies alive.”

Bower stressed how important a sign of appreciation like a valentine can be for a veteran who is going through a hard time.

“I want to extend an open invitation to the community to come in and thank these guys for their service,” remarked Bower. “They can take a look around or volunteer. We need to recognize our veterans every day, and we thank anyone who puts in the effort like the Rosies to show respect and gratitude.”

Those who wish to help are asked to RSVP with Kenward by emailing her at rosieboop410@gmail.com.

“For my personal opinion, St. Valentine’s Day is my favorite holiday, and sharing what you have is one of the most important things in the world you can do,” Kenward said. “It’s sort of better to give a valentine than to receive one. To share what makes you happy with others is so great.”

Call Staff Writer Brendan Losinski at (586) 498-1068.

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