There are super heroes among us. People whose powers drastically alter the human experience for all those who encounter them. People who can transform their environment and create new and existing realities.
In the 1940’s Rosie Riveter became a hero who represented the best that our country had to offer. As the men of the nation went to fight for freedom in WWII, the women moved into industry. Rosie, with her strong arm and flowing hair became a symbol of the tireless assembly worker. In reality, there were thousands of Rosie’s across the country, making the parts that kept he country and the war effort rolling. Rosie the Riveter, and the women who answered the call were celebrated in movies and advertisements across the nation.
If you ask a kid today who their heroes are, they will likely answer with a name like Lebron or Bryce Harper. Maybe they will say Tom Brady, or even Tiger Woods. Some might say the Rock, or maybe Emma Stone. More than likely, their answer will be an athlete or an entertainer. This is because our society has taken a turn somewhere along the lines that I do not recognize. Gone are the days of idolizing Law Enforcement officers, now they are villianized. The military is treated with the same disdain in many cases, or possibly worse, they get treated with indifference.
Hardly anyone would think of a manufacturer as a hero. Not many kids would have posters of a machinist on their wall. Still, without the men and women who make things in America, there would be no making of America.
Don’t get me wrong. I know that it takes a tremendous amount of skill to hit home-runs consistently. I do not devalue the hard work and determination that it takes to play basketball at the highest levels. I am merely saying that there are other professions that require skill and determination.
When you are standing on the ground floor of a high-rise in any of our countries cities, you are entrusting your life to the ability and knowledge of an iron worker. It takes years of hard work and practice to be able to stitch-weld a joint in a beam. No, it’s not as sexy as dunking a basketball or throwing a touchdown, but it is essential to life in America.
Have you ever stopped to consider how the items you use every day are made? In every part of every design across this nation there are parts that were painstakingly engineered and made by a craftsman’s hands. To machine a wheel hub takes experience and talent. Programming complex machined parts is not easy business and not just anyone can do it.
A shortage of skilled workers is one of the greatest and most immediate issues our country faces. More and more young people are ignoring the trades as a possible career choice, this means that when the current trade generation leaves the workforce, there will be massive shortages. Shortages in people who know how to perform maintenance on the complex machines that make our factories run. Shortages on programmers who know how to make CNC milling machines cut the precise parts that are needed in an advanced economy. Shortages on all manner of workers.
It is time that we stop idolizing athletes and actors and start teaching our youth the greatness of those who work hard in our country. It is time to highlight the doers, the drivers, and the makers.
There are heroes among us, in every city, and every town. Look around you and you will see them. They bend the steel and sew the shoes. They are busy getting up early to construct the towers and tune the engines. They program the machines and keep America running. They are the forgotten heroes of manufacturing and they must be forgotten no more.