Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Bright Star - Inspiration Thursday

"Wouldn't it be too bad if we left this world and hadn't done all we could for peace?" - Jeanette Rankin

I am reading a book about the life and significance of Jeannette Rankin.  While I was familiar with some of her story the book has added a depth of understanding and admiration for me.  What an amazing woman!!  At a time when women were second-class citizens she was brave enough to try for something more.  She helped bring about changes that had tremendous significance for our state, our nation and, as a woman, for me quite personally. 

She attended college--no small thing in her day--because her parents thought education was the most important thing to success. 

Even as a little girl she had thought it was wrong that women had little to no voice in their government.  Through her activism in Washington state, Montana and later Washington D.C., marching with flags and signs, giving speeches, writing letters, she helped give the right to vote to the women of our country. 

When she decided to become the first woman ever to be elected to the U.S. Congress people ridiculed her and told her it was impossible.  But she succeeded and in 1917 was the only woman in Congress.  I am proud that my home state was the first to send a woman to the capital in such an important capacity.   After the 1919 session of congress she hoped to be remembered for being the only woman able to vote to give all women the right to vote.

Jeanette was a creature of  amazing determination and courage.  While the rest of the congress voted to enter World War I she voted not to because she felt war was not the answer.  The hope had been for a unanimous vote which would show our strength to the world.  But Jeanette just couldn't do it.  She couldn't vote for war.  This decision caused her great torment.  Opponent said she was hysterical and an overly emotional woman--they even spread false rumors that she'd cried and fainted in Congress during the vote.  The suffragists she was allied with were outraged thinking she was hurting their cause by making women look weak and unpatriotic.  She would go on to cast the only vote no to enter World War II decades later.  But she stood up for what she believed in regardless of the ridicule.

And for that and so many reasons she is my inspiration for this Inspirational Thursday. 

The book is:  Jeanette Rankin:  Bright Star in the Big Sky by Mary Barmeyer O'Brien

1 comment:

  1. My great-grandmother went to college for four years, starting in 1870. He said the only way for the South to ever get over the War was for the women to get an education. I am proud of her, too!
    About WWI--there were 50 other people who voted no, so she should not have been castigated by anyone for that stance.

    The Western states and especially to Northwestern states were always progressive ideas for equality of women, thankfully for the rest of us women.

    I get carried away when a post is about women's equality, thanks to my Women's Studies BA. I knew about her, but not much.

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