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From military to politics, women are changing history

While spending the Christmas holiday with family in upstate New York, we had the opportunity to visit the Susan B. Anthony museum in Rochester.

Anthony became one of the most visible leaders of the women’s suffrage movement and in making a stand against society’s norm during her early years, she took on heavy criticism. Through a fusillade of personal attacks, she held onto a firm belief that the whole world would one day recognize woman as the equal of man.

“There is so much yet to be done, I see so many things I would like to do and say, but I must leave it for the younger generation,” she stated in 1902, four years before her death at the age of 86. “We old fighters have prepared the way, and it is easier than it was fifty years ago when I first got into the harness. The young blood, fresh with enthusiasm and with all the enlightenment of the twentieth century, must carry on the work.”

Anthony would have been impressed by today’s trailblazing women who have taken on leadership roles in the U.S. military.

Last week, the Navy announced that for the first time in the 224-year history of the USS Constitution, a woman is taking over as the commanding officer of the USS Constitution, the world’s oldest commissioned warship still afloat.

Cmdr. Billie J. Farrell, a 2004 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, is scheduled to assume command of the historic warship, which earned the nickname Old Ironsides during the War of 1812, when British cannonballs were seen bouncing off its wooden hull.

Along with that news, we learned that Capt. Amy Bauernschmidt became the first woman to lead a nuclear carrier in U.S. Navy history when the USS Abraham Lincoln deployed from San Diego, heading to the Indo-Pacific region.

Susan B. Anthony once stated that “There never will be complete equality until women themselves help to make laws and elect lawmakers. In recent years we’ve seen a number of women aviators distinguish themselves in congress after their military careers.

They include Amy Melinda McGrath of Kentucky, the first woman to fly a combat mission for the Marine Corps; Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey, who flew missions throughout Europe and the Middle East as a helicopter pilot; and Illinois’ Tammy Duckworth who became the first disabled female veteran to earn election to the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate, as well as the second female Asian American senator.

Two of the highest-ranking women office holders today are Nancy Pelosi, who became the first woman to serve as Speaker of the House in 2007; and Kamala Harris, the first female vice president and the highest-ranking female official in U.S. history, as well as the first African American vice president.

Pelosi and Harris’ liberal Democratic views, however, are being challenged by most Republican conservatives, including Marjorie Taylor Green of Georgia. Greene, along with many other Republicans, believe that the rioting of Jan. 6, 2001, in Washington D.C. was NOT an insurrection and that the film footage of the day’s events actually raises questions on how and by whom it was orchestrated.

Greene has also protested the treatment of those arrested and charged for their involvement in the January 6 protest, calling it a human-rights disaster. A number of the detainees have been in the D.C. jail for more than 10 months as their trials have been pushed into the middle of 2022.

After touring the jail and seeing the conditions firsthand, Green spoke out on the tortuous conditions, including months in solitary confinement, denial to basic grooming and health care services; physical assaults, racially-charged verbal abuse, not having access to family, and limited access to their attorneys. In November, a federal judge released one inmate who suffers from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after jail officials repeatedly withheld treatment.

Greene, along with 12 other Republican House members, have also asked for the removal of Deputy Warden Kathleen Landerkin, the person in charge of the pre-trial J6 detainees.

In learning more about Susan Anthony on our holiday trip, we found that she treasured her sense of independence and encouraged women to pursue their dreams.

“Forget conventionalisms; forget what the world thinks of you stepping out of your place,” Anthony once said. “Think your best thoughts, speak your best words, work your best works, looking to your own conscience for approval.”

Over a century later, it appears that more and more strong-willed conservative women are heeding that admonition.

By Jim Zbick | tneditor@tnonline.com

The foregoing opinions do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editorial Board or Times News LLC.