Copyright © 1997 Henrietta W. Hay
A New Day For the Clubs
August 22, 1997
WASHINGTON: AUGUST 26, 1920 --Today the 19th Amendment was certified as part of the U. S. Constitution. Referred to as the Susan B. Anthony Amendment, it states, "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."
The year was 1920. It was 131 years after the Constitution had been written without acknowledging women as citizens. It was 50 years after indentured slaves had been granted citizenship. One might even say that it was about time.
Today we take women's right to citizenship so completely for granted, that it is a little hard for me to realize that the women have gained this right within my lifetime. I hate to confess that I was not much interested at the time it happened, but forgive me. I was only six years old. I do hope that my mother was out there celebrating.
In 1971 the U. S. Congress designated August 26 as "Women's Equality Day" to honor women's continuing efforts toward equality.
In an earlier gesture, back in 1921 Congress accepted a marble statue honoring "the mothers of woman suffrage," Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott and placed it in the Rotunda of the U. S. capitol. Just one day later, for reasons we don't know but can imagine, the statue was moved to the area below the Rotunda, now called the Crypt. It remained hidden there until this year, when it was moved back to the Rotunda where it now sits proudly among the famous men.
Locally, right here in River City, we have three women who are making a different kind of history 75 years later. They are not suffragettes or freedom fighters, nor are they sculpted in marble. They are very much alive modern American business and professional women who are building their careers, serving their community and setting a precedent.
They have achieved a major First. This year three intelligent, competent professional women have paid their dues in hard work and ability in what was once exclusively a man's world, and have been recognized for their leadership ability. They are serving as presidents of the three largest service clubs in Grand Junction.
Kathryn Herzog, director of the Mesa State College Foundation, is President of Grand Junction Rotary. Illene Roggensack, owner of 3rd Sector Innovations, is President of the Lions Club. Martiey Miller, general manager of Radio Station KEKB, is President of the Kiwanis Club.
That which would have been unimaginable only a few years ago has actually happened.
American service clubs have a long, illustrious history. Their members have been the men who run things in their local communities. They have raised millions of dollars for good causes. They have served in countless ways. They have built hospitals and created scholarships.
For many years their members have conducted business with each other over rubber chicken lunches, have sealed deals over weak coffee, have listened to countless boring speeches, and have invented networking. And they have been the ultimate in maledom. My dad was president of Englewood Rotary once and my mother thought being a Rotary Ann was the greatest thing since sliced bread. She would, however, have blanched at the thought of being a Rotarian herself. Or on second thought, would she?
But over the last couple of decades, as more and more women have entered and climbed the ladder in the fields of business, politics and education, the service club picture in America has been changing. Women have become part of the business network and have been admitted to the service clubs in gradually increasing numbers. According to the stories I have heard, the early women members found a mixed reception, but they stuck it out and earned their place. And now their leadership been recognized. We have come a long way since August 26, 1920. Susan B. Anthony would be proud of Kathryn, Illene and Martiey. So am I.
The coming year will be a very good one for each of the clubs, for their presidents and for all of us. I suspect we'll all learn a lot. I think this is what we mean by "Women's Equality." It is women and men working together to achieve the goals we all want. It is something to celebrate.