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Part Five Reclaiming Identities

When I first met Donita, I let what I had heard about female riveters of World War II color my impression of her. I also let those three years at the bomber plant define what I thought of her. But as I talked with her and heard her stories, the most valuable thing that I learned was to not judge a person on the arbitrary labels someone else has ascribed to them, especially a label that she was reluctant to embrace. The most valuable things I learned came from within the pages of her life. In the same way that the feminist movement of the 1980s has re-claimed J. Howard Miller’s Rosie as a symbol of womanpower, I reclaimed Donita’s story for myself as a reminder of how the real women in our lives find ways and spaces on the fringes of social acceptability to make their statement and take their stand.