Friday, April 13, 2012

Women- Remember Our Common Heritage - We Can do Nothing if We are Polarized

My family history is filled with men who served this country in the name of freedom, beginning with an ancestor who fought in the Revolutionary War and was scalped. I don't remember him but I do remember my grandfather and uncle. My grandfather fought for freedom in the trenches of Europe during the Great War. My uncle returned to Europe to fight to free Europe from the control of Adolph Hitler and his ungodly extermination camps. I honor my ancestors who have served in the name of freedom. In school, I learned how important their service was because of the safeguard to my freedom. I learned about George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and the Sons of Liberty. As an adult, however, when I think about my personal freedoms that I enjoy each day, I think about the women who fought peacefully until those freedoms that were written about in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution became a reality for me.
I loved my grandfather and uncle and remember the personal stories of how they suffered in the two Great Wars. Sometimes, however, freedoms can be attained without resorting to war when a person lives in a democracy. I would like to mention a few of the women who fought peacefully from 1776 until 1920 to insure that the precious freedoms so important to the Founding Fathers become a reality for the Founding Mothers also. These are: freedom to own property, receive a first class education, work in my chosen profession and receive equal pay for equal work, protect my children from child labor and domestic violence, make decisions about sending our sons to war and to have no taxation without representation. I have all these freedoms because a group of women were willing to be harassed, jailed and tortured, ridiculed and put on a Red List and even risk their own personal safety without retaliation to secure freedom from enslavement and the right to vote.

Therefore, I would like to honor a few of the women listed in the Timeline of Women's Suffrage at
Elizabeth Cady Stanton-worked in the Underground Railroad and cofounded the Women's Suffrage Organization.
Susan B. Anthony- Co-founder of Women's Suffrage Movement. She was arrested for voting in the 1872 election and had bail of $1000. Despite an eloquent plea she was denied a trial by jury and convicted of the crime of voting. She was fined $100.
Harriet Tubman- Also known as Moses of her people. Risked her life and was severely beaten many times for leading her fellow slaves into the Promised Land. After slavery ended, she lived in New York and continued to work for civil rights and women's suffrage.
Jane Addams- Founder of Hull House, Peace Activist and served as Vice President of the Women's Suffrage Organization. She was put on the Red List in the 1920's because of her efforts to alleviate starvation in Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Soviet Union. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1933.
Alice Paul and Lucy Burns were suffragettes who were arrested for protesting in front of the White House on the Night of Terror in November, 1917. They were jailed and tortured for two weeks until a journalist wrote about their plight and they were released.
Margaret Sanger was a sex education author and female advocate for birth control. She opened the 1st women's birth-control clinic in Brooklyn, NY in Oct. 1916. The clinic was shut down ten days later, but Ms. Sanger kept the case in front of the courts until a federal court decision in her favor allowed her to open the second clinic in New York City in 1917.
These women were left out of the history books I studied when I went to school in the 1960's. I always took my freedoms to vote, own property, receive an education, work in the career of my choice for granted. Like many others I was taught that these freedoms were earned by the bravery of those men who wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution as well as the hundreds of thousands of others who died on the battlefields in all of the wars fought since 1776. I am grateful to all these men for protecting the democratic government that we do have in this country, but I am grateful there were those who really understood the meaning of democracy which is rule by the people and were willing to risk "their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor" in peaceful protest to insure all the people have a part in that government.
Brenda Duffey Author and Peace Activist
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