Women's Equality Day Celebrates Right to Vote
Fort Detrick's Women's Equality Day drew crowds into the post's Community Activities Center Aug. 18 for a lesson in history – and why that history is relevant today and into the future.
This year's observance was organized by the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency and centered on the right to vote, a power that women in the U.S. have enjoyed for less than 100 years. Frederick County's League of Women Voters President Melanie Cox provided the keynote address for the event, emphasizing that future generations need to value – and exercise – their right to vote.
"Nationwide, research shows us the only one in five young adults aged 18 to 30 voted in the last presidential election. When asked why, they say among other things that the 'issues are not relevant to them' or that they don't follow politics," said Cox. "We need to teach our young what the right to vote really means and why it matters to them."
The official anniversary of Women's Equality Day is Aug. 26, marking the victory of the women's suffrage movement to ratify the 19th amendment to the constitution, granting women the right to vote. The campaign, which spanned 72 years, was carried out by tens of thousands of persistent and courageous women and men.
"To win the right to vote, they circulated countless suffrage petitions and gave speeches in churches, convention halls, meeting houses and on street corners. They published newspapers, pamphlets, and magazines. They were frequently harassed and sometimes attacked by mobs and police. Some women were thrown in jail, and when they protested the injustice, they were treated brutally. Still they persevered," explained Maj. Nikki Davis, who spoke at this year's observance event.
Davis added that the suffrage movement stands as a lasting affirmation of our country's democratic promise and re-emphasizes the importance of the most fundamental democratic values: the right to vote and the possibility of peaceful yet revolutionary political change. Adding to that sentiment, USAMMA Commander Col. Lynn Marm emphasized in her closing remarks that this day also has significance for the culture of today's Army.
"In just this past year, the military graduated two female Soldiers from Ranger School, appointed the first black female Army surgeon general, and opened up all military specialties to women," said Marm. "Today women serve in every imaginable capacity, at all ranks, and inspire future generations to serve our nation. These are stories that go beyond women's equality. They speak to opportunity. I am proud to be a part of an organization that supports opportunity for all, regardless of gender or race."
For a free voter's guide and educational resources about voting, visit www.vote411.org. Launched by the League of Women Voters Education Fund (LWVEF) in October 2006, VOTE411.org is a one-stop-shop for election-related information. The resource provides nonpartisan information to the public with both general and state-specific information.