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Remembering the past and celebrating Women’s History

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Michelle Jeffries
  • Network 56 president
This month we take a moment to pause and celebrate the accomplishments and impact women have had and continue to have on our history. As we take this time to reflect on the past and the strength and courage these women had, I ask you to remember they were just like you and me. "Everyday" women who were driven for something better for themselves and others. The selfless goals and dreams they had were not just for women but for everyone equally. Their unbound successes, made it possible for us to have and hold the positions within our society today, not just military but civilian as well. They were the pioneers not knowing that their efforts laid the first pebble to a path that we would walk today.

We now observe Women's History Month each year, which was originally started in 1978 as "Women's History Week". When asked to write a commentary for Women's History Month, I wanted to find some of the earliest women pioneers. In my efforts, I found several women that in relation to their era, phenomenally achieved strides toward the equality of women. As far back as 1869, Ms. Esther Hobart McQuigg Slack Morris, born in 1814, promoted the idea of granting women the vote in Wyoming Territory in 1869. While not a member of any official associations, Ms. Morris was known as the "Mother of Woman Suffrage". As an outspoken woman, she championed laws giving married women property rights and provided equal pay for teachers. Her advocacy contributed to her appointment as the first female Justice of the Peace on 1870. She remained in office for under a year, and she believed she successfully passed the "test of woman's ability to hold public office."

In 1890 the Wyoming statehood committee honored her for pioneering the cause. In 1960 both the Cheyenne State House and Statutory Hall in the national Capitol erected statues of her, honoring her role in the movement.

We also remember Ms. Elizabeth Blackwell who was the first woman in the world to receive her medical degree. She served as a pioneer for women in the medical profession and promoted the education of women. She did this by opening her own medical college for women while Ms. Hattie Wyatt Caraway born in 1878, was the first woman elected to serve in the United States Senate. Her husband had been elected to Congress in 1912 and the U.S. Senate in 1920. When he died suddenly in 1931, Ms. Caraway was appointed to serve in his place and a special election confirmed the appointment. She began to gain a reputation for supporting President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, particularly on matters affecting veterans and unions. She was re-elected once, and during her second term she co-sponsored the Equal Rights Amendment.

These are names you don't hear every day or even every year during this time of reflection and there are many more in our history that had a huge impact and warrant remembering and honoring during Women's History month.

This month, we recognize women from our history for their courage and dedication for the equality of women. This month, we rejoice and commemorate Women's History, but I ask you not to limit that to just "this month". Every day, remember all those women who came before us and made it possible for any of us to be one of those "everyday" women to add another pebble to the path that our daughters, granddaughters and their granddaughters will walk in the future.