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One of the original 'Rosie the Riveters' is now making masks to help defeat coronavirus

94-year-old Mae Krier, an original 'Rosie the Riveter,' is making coronavirus masks and tells CNN's Chris Cuomo about serving her country during hard times.

Posted: Jul 22, 2020 1:20 PM
Updated: Jul 22, 2020 1:20 PM

One of the original "Rosie the Riveters" is serving her country once more.

Mae Krier, 94, worked in a Boeing factory during World War II, where she helped make warplanes. Now, she's helping fight a different battle -- coronavirus.

"I always made (them) for Rosie travel," she told CNN's Chris Cuomo. "We go to Washington and places and whenever we do, they love the bandanas. And I was making a lot of them when the virus started, and I just switched over from bandanas to face masks."

Rosie the Riveter is famously depicted wearing a red polka dot bandana around her head, but now, Krier is stitching face masks from the same cloth.

"People are starting to send me material and elastic and everything that I need from all over the country," she said, wearing one of the bandanas around her neck. "It's absolutely amazing. I'm just stunned."

She told CNN that on Facebook she mentioned that she ran out of elastic and she couldn't go to a store, and soon a package came with thread and everything she needed.

Krier first started making the masks a few months ago for her family and friends. Then someone posted about her masks on Facebook, and she got requests from folks across the US. Now, Krier has made more than 300 masks, and the requests haven't slowed down.

She told CNN she has more than 1,000 requests.

"So now I have to reach out. A lot of friends have offered to help me. We'll get there. We can do it," she said.

Krier uses a sewing machine to make the masks, and they're totally free -- though donations for postage are appreciated.

Part of what keeps Krier going is her campaign for Senate Bill 892, which would award Rosie the Riveter with a single Congressional Gold Medal, an effort to recognize the contributions made by women workers and volunteers during WWII. The medal would be displayed at the National Museum of American History. The bill currently doesn't have enough support to pass, but Krier is hoping to change that.

In the wake of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has encouraged Americans to wear face masks to slow the spread of the virus. Many cities and states have also initiated face mask requirements, too.

Still, some lawmakers have refused to wear masks, causing partisan division over whether the mask requirements infringe on rights.

Krier said she went through the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl and World War II and back then Americans banded together and did what they had to do.

"I don't understand why people can't band together now," she said.

Working in the Boeing factory was hard, she said, before pointing out they did it for years.

"Wearing a mask seems simple to me after going through all that," she said.

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