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The Obligatory Tour

The History Kid


As I get more and more into anime, I am sure I'll start lampooning something with anime.  Right now I could go on and on about how tacky I thought Soul Eater's ending was, how gut wrenching Chrono Crusade's ending was, or how I really despite Hetalia despite the fact it's supposed to be a historical concoction.  However, until that time comes - I figured I'd let people get a glimpse of my day-to-day, and my thought process therein.  

A historian, that is a Federal Historian (read: Golf-Sierra 0-1-7-0) is rarely "just" a historian.  They have functions that reach far beyond that of what you would associate with a historian.  It is not my intent nor duty to tell you about those things.  However, different historians in different commands or agencies get tasked with different responsibilities.  In my case, I fulfill the role as a (as in one of a few) installation historian.  In of itself, as a historian in a senior command on any post, that means you get tasked to give tours to the public and to other agencies on the post.  That's right, one of your tasks is to be a glorified tour guide.

In my case, that could mean a number of things.  Whether you're running people through the post museum, the officer's living quarters, or packed on a bus and blabbering on about the post as you drive around it, you're going to be talking with hopes that they might get ten percent of what you're saying.  I've found children to be the most difficult audience.  Why?  Short attention spans, poor self-discipline, no respect, and lack of understanding.  Trying to explain force projection or materiel integration to a 9 year old probably makes about as much sense as explaining geography to a flamingo.  The next hardest group is the elderly.  This becomes especially trying when all they want to talk about is how "awful war is."  I get that ma'am, and I agree, but I don't sign the deployment orders - someone else does, and they also sign mine.

Bus tours can be whirlwinds, and today was no exception - thus the reason I write this pilot entry.  Today we bused around twenty-eight Rosie the Riveter's and their families and talked about the role of women workers during the World Wars.

Rosie the Riveter became an American icon in 1942, and has remained an icon for female industrial workers ever since.  Originally, "Rosie" was attributed to Women Ordnance Workers or "WOWs."  In 1942, this term applied exclusively to women who were working in U.S. Army depots, but by the time the nation had fully mobilized in the middle of 1942 into the beginning of 1943, this term expanded to include any women in the defense industry.  That included women working in private foundries, factories, and production lines.  As companies such as Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors revamped their production lines to produce more and more war materiel, the number of men leaving their factory jobs for the front lines increased.  The result is that many women had to step in to fill the shoes of the men who were deploying.

My grandmother and grandfather were examples of ordnance workers in the private sector.  In 1942, my grandmother worked at Indiana Steel Works in Valparaiso, Indiana.  My grandfather was too old to deploy - so he too got a job in manufacturing.  Indiana Steel produced metal slabs for use in aircraft, tanks, and armored cars.  The role of a steel grinder, my grandmother's role, was to grind down smaller and misshapen steel for melting so that it could be molded to a usable shape or form.

For the tour, the Rosie's were packed on buses, and away we went.  On our installation, WOW's were employed to manufacture belt links, assemble machine guns, rifle M1903 Springfield's (in World War I) and M1 Garand's (in World War II), aid with the transport of materiel, and even load ammunition.  The installation was able to claim many progressive firsts, including the first use of WOW's outside of the office, the first woman to be authorized to drive heavy machinery, and the first installation to hire minority women employees.

The catch for this tour however: it was to be no more than 15 minutes.  Sadly, when you have as much history and content to discuss as this, such a tour is nearly impossible.  While it was enjoyable to be in their company, I am truly glad to be done with it.  Hopefully they at least got a few bits of information about themselves, or others who had not worked at this site in the past.  Such is the challenge of all tours...



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Why are these tours only 15 minutes? That seems so counterproductive if they make it a point to have you there to try to educate.

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3 minutes ago, Wedgy said:

Why are these tours only 15 minutes? That seems so counterproductive if they make it a point to have you there to try to educate.

It's not that they're always 15 minutes.  This tour just so happened to be.  The group was stuck on a strict schedule, and the planner...lets just say wasn't the greatest at planning.  Most of our engagements range from 45 to 90 minutes (we do have plans for 30 minutes too).  It just didn't work out that way this time.  The group was late - which didn't help either.

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