By Sarah J. Schmidt, USAG Schinnen Public AffairsSeptember 2, 2008
SCHINNEN, Netherlands (Aug. 26, 2008) -- It could have been a scene from 1920 as marchers at USAG Schinnen marked WomenAca,!a,,cs Equality Day with a two-mile morning march to celebrate the day women first won the right to vote.
Carrying signs and placards designed to honor the original suffragists, marchers included active duty, civilians and family members from around the tri-border region. An estimated 50 marchers took part in the walk sponsored by the Tri-Border Special Observance Committee.
Command Sgt. Major Mary Brown of USAG Schinnen opened the event by reminding marchers that the fight for womenAca,!a,,cs suffrage was hard-fought by many dedicated women and men. Aca,!A"Looking back from todayAca,!a,,cs vantage point, where women hold positions of authority and responsibility at almost every level, it is hard to imagine that for almost a century and a half, women were barred from exercising the most fundamental right of every democracy,Aca,!A? Brown observed.
The 19th Amendment lifted that barrier, opening the door of democracy for all generations of American women who came after the suffragists. Aca,!A"The 19th amendment enabled American girls and women to make the most of their abilities, to dream big dreams, andAca,!"more importantlyAca,!"to achieve those dreams. Because of this, our nation has reaped the rewards of womenAca,!a,,cs talents, accomplishments, wisdom, and perspective,Aca,!A? Brown said.
Brown then joined with Command Sgt. Major Joanne Cox of Joint Forces Command, Brunssum, to lead the march. Trivia questions posted along the route quizzed participants on their knowledge of womenAca,!a,,csAca,!a,,c history.
Aca,!A"This was a fun way to learn more about WomenAca,!a,,cs Equality Day, and at the same time, put yourself in the shoes of those original suffragists who marched for all our rights so many decades ago,Aca,!A? said Mary Ramsey, SchinnenAca,!a,,cs EEO Director and chairman of the Tri-Border Special Observance Committee.
Speech of CSM Mary L. Brown
WomenAca,!a,,cs Equality Day March, USAG Schinnen
August 26, 2008
Good Morning, on behalf of the Garrison Commander, I would like to welcome you to the WomenAca,!a,,cs Equality Day March. In honor of WomenAca,!a,,cs Equality Month, I would like to share a bit of wisdom with you:
One day three guys were out walking, and they found a lamp. They rubbed the lamp, and a genie popped out. The genie said, Aca,!A"Thanks for getting me out of that lamp. Now, IAca,!a,,cll grant you each one wish.Aca,!A? These guys werenAca,!a,,ct too smart, so they all decided to ask for intelligence. The first guy says, Aca,!A"I wish I was ten times smarter.Aca,!A? The genie says, Aca,!A"POOF! YouAca,!a,,cre ten times smarter.Aca,!A? The second guy says, Aca,!A"I wish to be 100 times smarter.Aca,!A? The genie says, Aca,!A"POOF! YouAca,!a,,cre 100 times smarter.Aca,!A? The last guy says, Aca,!A"I wish to be 1000 times smarter.Aca,!A? And the genie says. Aca,!A"POOF! YouAca,!a,,cre a woman!Aca,!A?
Each year, during WomenAca,!a,,cs Equality Month, we reflect on how far weAca,!a,,cve traveled on our journey to make America live up to the ideals of justice and equality articulated so powerfully in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Few constitutional amendments have affected that progress more profoundly than the 19th Amendment, which guarantees American women the right to vote.
Now, let me tell you the story behind the Constitutional Amendment youAca,!a,,cre celebrating today. When America was first founded, despite the democratic ideals that had inspired the American Revolution, only a minority of all the adults were actually entitled to vote. Far more than half the adult population was disenfranchised. Those who couldnAca,!a,,ct vote included slaves, women, apprentices and indentured laborers, convicted criminals, many free black men, many white men who didnAca,!a,,ct own property, and those considered mentally incompetent. Actually, the last category included women. The reason women werenAca,!a,,ct allowed to vote was because we were presumed to be incapable of sound reasoning!
There were many milestones in the century-long struggle that finally culminated with the 19th Amendment. One of the first public appeals for womenAca,!a,,cs right to vote came in 1848, at the Seneca Falls Convention. The convention participants signed a declaration calling for the end of all discrimination against women, including the denial of voting rights. At this convention, the delegates expounded upon the most famous phrase in the Declaration of Independence, proclaiming that Aca,!A"all men and women are created equal!Aca,!A?
The fight for womenAca,!a,,cs suffrage was hard-fought by many dedicated women and men who were fighting not only for their own rights and welfare, but also for the rights and welfare of all women in the future. One early womenAca,!a,,cs rights activist described her sense of responsibility as such: Aca,!A"The door might not be opened to a woman again for a long, long time, and I had a duty to other women to walk in, sit down on the chair that was offered, and establish the rights of others in the future to sit in the high seats.Aca,!A?
Looking back from todayAca,!a,,cs vantage point, where women hold positions of authority and responsibility at almost every level of government, it is hard to imagine that, for almost a century and a half, women were barred from exercising the most fundamental right of every democracy. There are women living among us who can remember a time when they were prevented, by law, from having a role in shaping the destiny of their country and the impact of government on their own and their familiesAca,!a,,c lives.
But thanks to women of extraordinary courage and conviction, who waged for years a determined campaign for womenAca,!a,,cs suffrage, the 19th Amendment was ratified in August 1920, opening the door for generations of American women to add their visions and voices to our national growth. The 19th amendment enabled American girls and women to make the most of their abilities, to dream big dreams, andAca,!"more importantAca,!"to achieve those dreams.
Because of this, our nation has reaped the rewards of womenAca,!a,,cs talents, accomplishments, wisdom, and perspective.
In every activity and professionAca,!"in the home and outside the home, as astronauts and professional athletes, as teachers and university presidents, as military leaders and firefighters, as caregivers, Cabinet members, Supreme Court Justices, Speaker of the House, and Presidential CandidatesAca,!"women have made lasting contributions to the quality of our lives and the strength of our democracy.
In closing, I would like to leave you all with a few parting words. IAca,!a,,cm sure some of you have heard Maya AngelouAca,!a,,cs poem, Phenomenal Woman. Well, I borrowed some of her words, and added some of my own, put my own spin on it, and this is what I came up with. So here goes:
Phenomenal womenAca,!"thatAca,!a,,cs what you see
Phenomenal because of whatAca,!a,,cs inside us
What makes us so phenomenal, you ask'
We can summon the powers of those in our past
Those who were told, they couldnAca,!a,,ct vote.
Those who were told, Aca,!A"Your place is to be barefoot, pregnant,
and in the kitchen.Aca,!A?
Those, who were reminded that this is a ManAca,!a,,cs world,
Those who were told, Aca,!A"YouAca,!a,,cre just a token.Aca,!A?
Those who not only reached, but broke the glass ceiling.
Now you understand, just why our heads are not bowed.
We donAca,!a,,ct shout or jump about.
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see us passing, it ought to make you proud.
We are phenomenal women, you see.
Phenomenal, simply, because thatAca,!a,,cs what we were destined to be.
Thank you taking part in todayAca,!a,,cs ceremony.
ItAca,!a,,cs time to get this march started.