Reflections of women show character, perseverance
March 25, 2010
WIESBADEN, Germany -- A resourceful mother, a woman with a childhood shadowed in fear and a politician who was shunned for voting her conscience.
These were the stories told in recognition of National Women's History Month during a March 4 lunch and learn at the Wiesbaden Dining Facility.
Since 1987, Congress has approved a resolution declaring March Women's History Month. This year's theme for the month is "Writing Women Back into History." During the Equal Employment Opportunity Office-sponsored lunch and learn, three women speakers gave recognition to important women in their lives.
Jan Meert, director of the Wiesbaden Army Community Service, shared stories about her mother - a woman of Dutch descent who put dinner on the table every night while Meert's father was deployed to Vietnam for 15 months.
The crowd giggled when Meert recounted the time her mother sacrificed a yellow negligee for her daughter's need of a butterfly net.
Anemone Rueger, the U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden Public Affairs Officer, talked about growing up in East Germany where "you were always trying to be as gray and invisible as possible and not get hurt."
"Fear was just an ingredient you grew up with," said Rueger even as she admitted that her dream was always to see if the other side of the world on the other side of the fence actually existed.
It did. And after years of studying abroad, Rueger said she made a choice about her career and her life.
"I wanted to be in the middle of something happening. ... I'm living the dream I dared not dream when I was 15. ... The point is you never know what's on the other side of the mountain of fear you're trying to climb," said Rueger.
Jeanne Galindo, the USAG Wiesbaden Equal Employment Opportunity Officer, reminded listeners that doing the right thing doesn't always mean doing the popular thing.
Jeannette Rankin was the first woman ever to be elected to the U.S. Congress even as other states struggled to secure suffrage for women.
In 1917, the Montana representative was one of 50 to vote no on a resolution for the country to enter World War I. She was not re-elected.
Elected again in 1940, Rankin was the only member of Congress to vote no on the resolution for the country to join World War II.
"She was villainized by her peers, (her decisions not to enter the wars) cost her her career," said Galindo. "The woman had the integrity to do what she thought was right and not the popular thing to do."
Overcoming fear and adversity is how women left their marks on history, according to the speakers.
But in truth, said the speakers, overcoming fear and adversity is how people not just women make history.
"I would encourage you all to look around," said Meert. "There are some incredible people here who can inspire us all."