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Celebrating Women’s History Month

March is National Women’s History Month, an important time to reflect on the impact of women and celebrate their vital role in American history. The commemoration corresponds with International Women’s Day every March and traces its history back to 1911. In 1980, President Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation for the occasion with these words:

From the first settlers who came to our shores, from the first American Indian families who befriended them, men and women have worked together to build this nation. Too often the women were unsung and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength and love of the women who built America was as vital as that of the men whose names we know so well.

As we think back on our own education, chances are we all learned about Neil Armstrong, but how about Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space? America’s Founding Fathers are on our currency and celebrated in hit Broadway musicals, but our foremothers are often forgotten. In that spirit, here are five great American women who inspire us with their courage, determination and visons of a better world:

1. Sojourner Truth

Born into slavery in 1797 as Isabella Baumfree, she escaped bondage and gave herself the name Sojourner Truth, convinced that God had called her to leave the city and testify in the countryside. As a preacher, she campaigned nationwide for the abolition of slavery and for women’s rights. Smithsonian magazine has named her one of the “100 Most Significant Americans of All Time.”

2. Harriet Beecher Stowe

Abraham Lincoln reportedly said, upon meeting Stowe, “So you’re the little lady who started this great war.” Stowe was an abolitionist and author of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” one of the most bestselling books ever written in America and a leading inspiration for the cause of abolition.

3. Clara Barton

Barton was a woman of many trades including a hospital nurse in the American Civil War, a teacher and a patent clerk. A great humanitarian, she is best known for founding of the American Red Cross after her experiences as a pioneering nurse in the Franco-Prussian War. She also held a long association with Susan B. Anthony and the woman’s suffrage movement.

4. Amelia Earhart

Speaking of pioneers, has there ever been an American as adventurous as Amelia Earhart? She was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, and in a later flight she disappeared while trying to circumnavigate the globe in 1937. The mystery of her disappearance continues to fascinate many, but her spirit of adventure is the true inspiration.

5. Helen Keller

Deafened and blinded by disease in her childhood, Helen Keller famously overcame her disabilities and became one of 20th century’s most inspiring communicators. She was a prolific author and public speaker and using her platform to campaign for women’s suffrage and remains a hero for her ability to overcome adversity.

At Bethesda Senior Living Communities, we recognize the importance of women in our world —and in our very business. We’d like to take a moment to recognize the women we work with who inspire us every day. These women make an impact on our residents, our team members, and our communities.