Tue, Nov 6, 2012
“You asked me to explain myself. I just wonder what needs to be explained. Let me be very clear. Look into your own heart. I swear to you, mine’s no different. You want a place in the trades and professions where you can earn your bread? So do I. You want some means of self expression? Some way of satisfying your own personal ambitions? So do I. You want a voice in the government in which you live? So do I. What is there to explain?” – Alice Paul in Iron Jawed Angels
About a month and a half before the 1996 presidential election, I turned 18. I still wasn’t old enough to drink, so the highlight of that birthday and the first thing on my agenda was registering to vote! I was so excited. Bob Dole vs. Bill Clinton. Yeah, unfortunately we all know how that one turned out. But boy did I feel like an adult. My opinion not only mattered, it counted. I got a say-so. Not something you get much of prior to turning 18.
Head high and probably full of teenage arrogance, I failed to fully understand and appreciate the historical significance, the privilege and blessing, of having the right and the freedom to vote. It wasn’t until 1920 that women in the United States were given this right. The U.S. was nowhere close to being the first, but thankfully, over the last hundred years or so, most of the other countries have also given women this right. There are still a few countries however that deny women many rights, including the right to vote; treating them only as property.
Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, and many other women of strength and courage fought for every single one of us who have come after them. Their determination and their unrelenting desire to stand up and fight for what was just and right gave us the privilege and the honor of having a voice in government and having it count. If you’ve never watched Iron Jawed Angels featuring Hillary Swank as Alice Paul, it is a must see! It will remind you in every way to never take for granted the right to vote. And to never fail to exercise your right. These women fought and suffered for us. Today, we honor them by casting our vote.
When I walked into the church near my house today to vote, I thanked Alice and I thanked God. I don’t think it’s ever felt so good to go vote! We are so blessed.