I’ve been thinking about Nana a lot. She loved Rosh Hashanah and she took Yom Kippur so seriously. She gave up everything she had, left her family to come to America. I know she missed them terribly and I know she struggled here but she was a proud American citizen.
I just learned that Nana tried to register to vote and was intimidated and ridiculed by the workers at the Board of Elections. They made fun of her broken English; her combination Yiddish/Russian/English and her appearance. Nana had very bad circulation problems and wore heavy stockings to ease the pain and to hide the veins she was so ashamed of. Being so small the stockings always drooped and gathered.
I never thought to ask her why she didn’t vote. I wish I had been older when that happened, I would have had a thing or two to say at the Board of Elections.
Nana hated talking about politics but loved talking about America. I remember when JFK first became prominent. Many of the other ladies would talk about how good looking he was. Nana talked about how “ready to fight” he seemed. She loved Rose Kennedy and would always include Rose and “all the children” in her prayers.
You better not criticize America to Nana! You would get the evil eye. If she liked you, and she loved me, she would say “so go fix it” and she’d insist “everything is possible in America”.
Nana is and always will be the single most forceful woman, person, I have known. I miss her and I always feel her with me. One of the most wonderful moments of my life was when Nana told me I was just like her, an “old soul” who “carried the generations with me in my heart”. And so it breaks my heart that a woman would right now, today, be the single most hateful aspect of this historic election. How she dishonors all the incredible women who came before her.
I’m going to share with you an e-mail I received. It was sent to me and to hundreds of others. I researched the information. You can learn about its origins HERE. Apparently someone read Connie Schultz's words and then saw the HBO movie and put this e-mail together.
WHY WOMEN SHOULD VOTE.
This is the story of our Grandmothers and Great-grandmothers; they lived only 90 years ago.
Remember, it was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.
The women were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking for the vote.
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 Burns, 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 cellmate, 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.
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.
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?
AND EDITH AINGE (middle) AND THEN BERTHE ARNOLD
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
All these years later, 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.
Conferring over ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution at National Woman's Party headquarters.
L-R Mrs. Lawrence Lewis, Mrs. Abby Scott Baker, Anita Pollitzer, Alice Paul, Florence Boeckel, and Mabel Vernon (standing, right))
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.
Helena Hill Weed, Norwalk,Conn. Serving 3 day sentence in D.C. prison for carrying a banner that said - "Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed."
History is being made.
The e-mail ended there.
Sarah Palin has given me one more reason to vote. I KNOW if she had been around in 1920 she would have been the one who turned the others in.
Nana would never say anything bad about “an American official” but I know she would want me to “go and fix it”. If you still need one more reason to vote!! Then do it for Nana and for all the truly patriotic women who sacrificed for us.