Saturday, August 30, 2008
The story below came to me by a forwarded email. I don’t know who wrote it, but it hit home with me. Thursday night I was out with some friends discussing politics over dinner and I realized how unengaged I’ve become. I used to be passionate about this stuff. Back in 1993 when I was an intern in Washington I had an opinion on all the issues. But in recent years I’ve checked-out. Mostly because I haven’t found time to read up and really learn for myself which candidate best represents me. So this year, with my 8-hours a week of child free time :-), I’m committing to take some time to figure out where I stand (I’d like to try and find the movie mentioned below too…I wonder if I’m related to Alice Paul). *****************************************************************This is the story of our Grandmothers, and Great-grandmothers, as they lived only 90 years ago. It was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.Thus unfolded the 'Night of Terror' on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right to vote. The women were innocent and defenseless. And by the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of 'obstructing sidewalk traffic.'They beat Lucy Burn, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air. They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cell mate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their food--all of it colorless slop--was infested with worms. When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.So, refresh my memory. Some women won't vote this year because--why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our vote doesn't matter? It's raining?Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO's new movie 'Iron Jawed Angels.' It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have my say. I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder.Voter registration is still my passion. But the actual act of voting had become less personal for me, more rote. Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege. Sometimes it was inconvenient.My friend Wendy, who is my age and studied women's history, saw the HBO movie, too. When she stopped by my desk to talk about it, she looked angry. She was--with herself. 'One thought kept coming back to me as I watched that movie,' she said. 'What would those women think of the way I use--or don't use--my right to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just younger women, but those of us who did seek to learn.' The right to vote, she said, had become valuable to her 'all over again.'HBO released the movie on video and DVD. I wish all history, social studies and government teachers would include the movie in their curriculum. I want it shown on Bunco night, too, and anywhere else women gather. I realize this isn't our usual idea of socializing, but we are not voting in the numbers that we should be, and I think a little shock therapy is in order It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn't make her crazy.The doctor admonished the men: 'Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.'Please, if you are so inclined, pass this on to all the women you know. We need to get out and vote and use this right that was fought so hard for by these very courageous women. Whether you vote democratic, republican or independent party - remember to vote.If you are interested in more history - go to the following website:http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/suffragettes.htm
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
I love my little community in the Midwest - great families, fun things to do, great city, etc. But, man, when I visit the West how I miss the mountains!!! The last two weeks in July we visited Utah for a week, then drove down to Southern Colorado with all five of my siblings and spouses and all 13 of our kids (plus my brother's girlfriend's 2 darling kids came along too). If you've never been to San Juan National Forest in Colorado, I highly suggest it (Whitney and Jen B - you have no excuses, get yourselves there). It's breathtakingly beautiful. Of course I'm not around mountains much anymore, so maybe I'm easily impressed. But I'm telling you it was amazing. I could go on and on...but my sister already did. So, I'll let you click over to her site for more details and more photos... http://werewinginit.blogspot.com/2008/07/trip-to-colorado.html. Thanks Sheree!