March is Women’s History Month. The National Women’s History Alliance has announced the women’s history theme for 2023 is “Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories.”
Recently, I became aware of an interesting history involving our own heroic women firefighters here in Voorhees. An 89-year-old woman named Dottie Hann has lived in Voorhees since 1959. Back then, Voorhees had only three elementary schools, Ashland, Kirkwood and Kresson. Dottie worked at the Kresson Elementary School as a Teachers’ Aide. She remembers how the sirens would go out and the women with their fire trucks would come out and fight fires. Those women later became Dottie’s lifelong friends. We honor their memory:
- Estella Smuro
- Evelyn Maxfield, wife of the Fire Chief at that time
- Pat Parker
- Phil StClaire
- Jug Tyville
We remember these heroic women of Voorhees Township who sacrificed their lives to save others, and we celebrate them in March and always.
On March 8, 1911 the first International Women’s Day was celebrated in Austria, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark, though the holiday was not widely celebrated in the United States until the United Nations began sponsoring it in 1975.
In 1977, to persuade school principals to comply with the recently passed Title IX, a task force in California created Women’s History Week to celebrate the accomplishments of women.
In March 1980, after celebrations had spread across the country, President Jimmy Carter declared that March 8 was officially the start of National Women’s History Week. That same year, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch and Maryland Representative Barbara Mikulski co-sponsored the first Joint Congressional Resolution declaring the week of March 8, 1981 as National Women’s History Week.
By 1987, Congress declared the entire month of March as Women’s History Month. Since then, every President has declared the month of March as Women’s History Month. In 2021, President Biden called upon all Americans to observe this month and to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, 2021, with appropriate programs, ceremonies and activities. He also invited all Americans to visit WomensHistoryMonth.gov to learn more about the vital contribution of women in our nation’s history.
Women served our nation during World War II, led organizing and litigation efforts during the Civil Rights movement and represented the United States on the global stage in the fight for human rights, peace and security. Far too often, their heroic efforts and stories have gone untold — especially the millions of black women, immigrant women and others from diverse communities who have strengthened America across every generation.
During the global pandemic, women continued to lead. From vaccine researchers to public health officials to the countless heroines on the frontlines, women have been working tirelessly to defeat COVID-19.
2021 also marked a historic milestone of women’s leadership with the inauguration of America’s first woman Vice President, Kamala Harris. In our community, I am proud to serve on the Voorhees Township Committee with two women who are role models, Michelle Nocito and Jacklyn Kassab Fetbroyt. They will be sharing their thoughts in this column over the next two weeks.
**The Spring Egg Hunt sponsored by the Voorhees Breakfast Rotary Club and the Voorhees Citizens Event Foundation will be held on April 1 at 10am at Lions Lake Park, 101 Dutchtown Road in Voorhees (rain date April 8). For more information, visit voorheesbreakfastrotary.org, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org