Guest Columnist: Committeeperson Fetbroyt

Guest Columnist: Committeeperson Fetbroyt Women’s History Month

What is a Proclamation?

​Certainly, a statement or declaration, but with a capital “P” and in government, so much more.  Government officials use Proclamations to shape their tenure, address private individuals and their affairs, and guide the course of their service.

Presidential Proclamations are official announcements of policy. While many are honorary or ceremonial, Proclamations may carry the weight presidential authority in certain instances.  And, they may shape history and the legal landscape (indeed, the Emancipation Proclamation remains one of the most famous in history).

In the first ever Presidential Proclamation of Women’s History Month (others had previously proclaimed a day or week), President Regan announced:

From earliest times, women have helped shape our Nation. Historians today stress all that women have meant to our national life, but the rest of us too should remember, with pride and gratitude, the achievements of women throughout American history.

Those achievements span the wide range of human endeavor. They have not been attained without the quiet courage and sacrifice of millions of women, some famed, most not. Women have established themselves in business and the professions, and today women outnumber men as undergraduates at our colleges and universities. Women have fought for moral and social reform and have taken part in and led many great social and political movements of our land. Women have founded many of our philanthropic, cultural, educational, and charitable institutions. Women have served our Nation with valor and distinction during wartime, nursing the wounded, piloting airplanes, performing vital jobs in defense plants. Women have forged a place for themselves in public life, serving on the Supreme Court, in the Congress, and in Cabinet posts; becoming Ambassadors; and holding Federal Executive posts that affect the lives of every citizen.

Most importantly, as women take part in the world of work, they also continue to embrace and nurture the family as they have always done. All Americans can be truly grateful for the role of women as the heart of the family and for their every accomplishment today and throughout our history.

The Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 20, has designated the month of March 1987 as “Women’s History Month” and authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of this event.

Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim March 1987 as Women’s History Month. I call upon all Americans to mark this month with appropriate observances to honor the achievements of American women.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this sixteenth day of March, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-seven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and eleventh.

Since 1987, each President of the United States, every year, has proclaimed March to be Women’s History Month.

In 1990, President Bush proclaimed: “This month, as we recall the achievements of prominent women in U.S. history, we also remember the quiet yet lasting contributions women have made to our society through the family, as volunteers in local charities or relief organizations, and as leaders in our churches. Women have demonstrated their great love for this country and have made that love real by their engagement in the lives of others. If any definition of a successful life must include service to others, countless women live successful lives. Through their tireless service on a daily basis, the women of our Nation have woven the fabric of families and communities. For it is the family and the local community that have always been our Nation’s stronghold, the first and greatest source of Americans’ civic pride and sense of duty. The women who have sustained these institutions throughout America’s history have strengthened this country beyond measure.”

In 1996, President Clinton proclaimed: “It is impossible to fully appreciate America’s proud history without recognizing the extraordinary contributions that women have made to our country since its founding. Women’s History Month provides an opportunity to celebrate the countless women who have enriched our Nation and to ensure that their achievements—in homes and businesses, schools and hospitals, courtrooms and statehouses—will always be remembered. We have come a long way since Abigail Adams asked her husband John to “remember the ladies” when drafting the Constitution, and we recognize that women not only have broadened and reshaped the path laid by our Founding Fathers, but also have made new avenues toward progress and justice.”

In 2008, President Bush proclaimed: “During Women’s History Month, we celebrate the courage, foresight, and resolve of women who have strengthened our democracy…Today, women are continuing this legacy of leadership as entrepreneurs, doctors, teachers, scientists, lawyers, artists, and public officials. They are also providing guidance and care to their loved ones and strengthening America’s families and communities. We also remember the women of the United States Armed Forces who are serving our country with honor and distinction across the world.”

In 2015, President Obama proclaimed: “Throughout history, extraordinary women have fought tirelessly to broaden our democracy’s reach and help perfect our Union.  Through protest and activism, generations of women have appealed to the values at the heart of our Nation and fought to give meaning to the idea that we are all created equal.  As today’s women and girls reach for new heights, they stand on the shoulders of all those who have come before and carry forward their legacy of proud achievement.  This month, we celebrate countless pioneering women and the victories they won, and we continue our work to build a society where our daughters have the same possibilities as our sons.”

In 2018, President Trump proclaimed: “[W]e will support women throughout our society, recognizing that the successes of women strengthen our families, our economy, and our Nation. As we reflect on the role of women throughout American history, we remember that women must always have access to all the opportunities that our Nation has to offer. Indeed, ensuring access to these opportunities is vital to our Nation’s prosperity.”

And last week, President Biden proclaimed: “Every March, Women’s History Month provides an opportunity to honor the generations of trailblazing women and girls who have built our Nation, shaped our progress, and strengthened our character as a people. Throughout our history, despite hardship, exclusion, and discrimination, women have strived and sacrificed for equity and equality in communities across the country.”

The historic significance of every President, every yearsince 1995 using a powerful policy tool at the Office’s disposal should resonate with each of us.  As citizens, we should reflect on the importance – not only in the culture of our society but woven into the fabric of government at its highest levels – of women’s contributions, challenges, fights, and demands…and find ways in which society and government can best respond.