Celebrating the 19th Amendment for 4th of July

One hundred years ago, women finally won the right to vote in the United States of America. We weren’t “given” the right; our ancestors demanded the right to vote, for 70 years! I’m still appalled that it took so long. In honor of the centennial, I’m recycling this post from 2018.

Fourth of July graphic

Happy Fourth of July!

The Declaration of Independence states “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” But nowhere does it mention women.

When I was growing up, I was told that the word “men” was intended to refer to all mankind, including women, a comforting notion that satisfied my childish curiosity. However, I no longer believe that, in large part because I now know that Abigail Adams, wife of our second president and mother of the sixth, wrote to her husband John in March of 1776 with the words “remember the ladies”. Since I’m quite certain he did not have dementia at the time, it’s obvious that the ladies were deliberately excluded, as were enslaved men.

suffragette with sign

Yeah, they were pissed off. (Suffragette With A Sign
@ Therealdarla)

Nor are women mentioned in the US Constitution, and the right to vote is not delineated. In the early history of our nation, laws about who could vote were decided by each individual state. None allowed women to vote. Wyoming Territory gave women the right to vote in 1869, followed by Utah Territory (1870) and Washington Territory (1882). When the territories became states, they preserved women’s suffrage. It may seem odd that these Western states were the first, but given the fact that women were scarce in the Old West, I suspect suffrage was a way of attracting more women to settle in the Far West. Or perhaps the Western territories were more egalitarian, since there was no existing old-style patriarchy to run things, like there was back east. Hard to say for sure. You can find out what year your state first allowed women to vote at the National Constitution Center’s website.

My point is, women’s rights are not something we can take for granted. The right to vote was hard won by several generations of women, starting in 1848 and finally culminating in victory in 1920 by passage of the 19th Amendment, 130 years after the Constitution was ratified.

As our current president would say, “Sad.”

I hope to live long enough to see full gender equality.

Equality between man and woman

Equality between man and woman
@ BrianAJackson

In the meantime, have a happy and safe Fourth of July!

Linda

Remembering the Landing Beaches of Normandy #D-Day

Arromanche Beach

Arromanches les Bains seafront beach and remains of the artificial harbour used on D-Day in World War II. Normandy France.

It has been seventy-six years since the Allies landed in France on D-Day, June 6, 1944, and still people travel to Normandy to see the beaches and visit the cemeteries.

Landing Beach Map

Map of the landing beaches at Normandy.

My father served in North Africa and Italy during World War II, so I never planned to visit the D-Day beaches, but now I have done so twice. Once on a cruise around the British Isles, and again in September 2016 on a tour of Northern France. Both times I came away humbled by the sacrifices made there.

The D-Day invasion was a massive undertaking, with over 156,000 American, Canadian and British forces involved. Code named Operation Overlord, it was the largest amphibious landing in history.

The invasion started the night of June 5th as paratroopers were flown into France behind the German lines. One of the most famous stories is about the paratrooper who landed in the charming town of Ste. Mere Eglise, where his parachute caught on the tower of the church in the middle of a fire. Visitors can view a replica of the trooper hanging from the tower.

church tower + parachute

Church tower at Ste. Mere Eglise.

One of the most impressive sites is at Pointe du Hoc, the location of German bunkers in between Omaha and Utah beaches that fired shells at the Americans during the landing. A contingent of Army Rangers climbed the cliffs to take the high ground. There’s a monument to them.

Ranger Monument

Ranger Monument at Pointe du Hoc, Normandy.

The stone plaque at the monument reads:

To the heroic Ranger Commandoes… of the 116th inf. under the command of Colonel James E. Rudder of the First American Division attacked and took possession of Pointe du Hoc.

The site has been pretty much left as it was after the battle, with the exception of the memorial and the grass and other plants that now grow there. It is a truly spectacular spot, with gorgeous ocean views. It’s hard to imagine what a hell it must have been seventy-six years ago.

Cliff at Pointe du Hoc

Cliff at Pointe du Hoc

The most moving part of the day’s tour was the visit to the American Cemetery at Colville, not the only D-Day cemetery. On the way, we passed the site of the first American cemetery, now reduced to a single memorial stone. The Colville site is a beautiful cemetery, meticulously maintained. Gazing out at the rows and rows of grave markers, most with crosses on top, but some with Stars of David or crescents, drives home the extent of the sacrifices made that long-ago day, and the mere thought of it brings tears to my eyes.

American cemetery

Grave markers at American cemetery, Colville, France

The generation that fought in World War II is rapidly dying off, sadly, some from COVID-19. I wonder if we will ever see their like again.

Linda