Honoring a Woman vs. Honoring Women

In June of this year the Treasury Department announced that the redesigned ten dollar bill would honor a woman of historic significance. In doing so, a disservice to women may be the unintended consequence of this action.

A closer look at those women considered, along with two alternatives, warrants consideration.

At the time of the announcement Secretary of the Treasury, Jack Lew stated he wanted a woman “who was a champion for our inclusive democracy.”  

The stated legal criteria for being so honored is far more limited, as the only requirement is that any person so honored must no longer be alive.

Following the announcement, online polls were quickly conducted, with an organization called “Womenon20’s” taking the lead.

Many of the original candidates established by this group failed, in one aspect or another, to live up to Mr. Lew’s criteria, Margaret Sanger being an obvious example. Several choices were simply feminist icons (Betty Friedan, Sojourner Truth, and Alice Paul). Additionally many named sent readers to Wikipedia to determine who they were (Patsy Mink, Rachel Carson, and Francis Perkins).

One woman of significance; Jeanette Rankin, the first woman elected to Congress, is absent. Her controversial career broke new ground. For example, she is the only Member of Congress to have voted against both World War I and II. That alone should put her at the top of the list for many, as well as at the bottom for others.

If a woman (emphasis on the singular), is to be honored, it should be one whose name is immediately recognized and one who’s life work stands head shoulders above others.

The long list of women was shortened, thankfully, with the leading vote getters facing each other, figuratively speaking, in a run off. In order of popularity they were (final results are given):

Harriet Tubman (34%), Eleanor Roosevelt (32%), Rosa Parks (18%), Wilma Mankiller (17%)

One would think that on the basis of name alone the last place finisher would have drawn a higher percentage of votes from the feminist sector. While Mrs. FDR’s single greatest achievement, that is being Mrs. FDR, would have placed her further down the list.

But considering todays Democrat Presidential candidates, it is evident that actual achievement places second to ideology and spousal selection amongst many people.

The effort to place a woman on the ten was led by Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, who issued a statement following the announcement:

“… make no mistake, this is a historic announcement and a big step forward. Young girls across this country will soon be able to see an inspiring woman on the ten dollar bill who helped shape our country into what it is today “

Although many of the women named, as well as many who were not (Amelia Earhart, Abigal Adams, Sally Ride), have had significant achievements in their lives, putting any singular woman on the bill would fall short of the goal of honoring women (emphasize on the plural).

If we really want to honor women, following are two options, meeting Secretary Lew’s criteria, which are worthy of consideration:

First: “Rosie the Riveter -- During WWII tens of thousands of women worked to help build the ships, tanks, trucks, jeeps, planes and other equipment that helped to save the world from despotic tyranny. The majority of these women, of whom thousands remain with us, are now in their late eighties to nineties. Additionally many centenarians are still with us as well. Recognizing their efforts in this manner would be very inclusive, as well as much deserved. Additionally it would send a strong message to the youth of today regarding the capabilities of women.

We must remember that these women; our mothers, aunts, and grandmothers, paved the way for the increased inclusion of women in the work force which we saw in the seventies and eighties. These women did not jump on any bandwagon. They pitched in to do all that was required in the face of adversity.

They did what needed to be done to save their children and the nation.

It is not suggested that the WWII poster images of Rosie be utilized, rather, a more appropriate design, befitting the seriousness of the honor, could be readily accomplished.

Second: “The Immigrant Mother” – Between 1870 and 1914 over 20 million immigrants were processed through either Castle Garden (aka Castle Clinton) or Ellis Island. Many of us alive today can trace our family history to the millions of women who passed through these institutions.

Our nation is sharply divided over the issue of “immigration” with Democrats seeking to equalize the accomplishments those mentioned above with the actions of those who ignore the law. Indeed those who seek only a fair application of the law are now demonized by current Democratic leadership.

This choice would reinforce not only the important role of “the Immigrant Mother” but would serve to remind others that the path to legal immigration is one deserving of respect.

A new bill could feature on the face: a woman, possibly with child, who could be from Ireland or Italy, Poland or Persia, Sweden or Slovenia, China or Korea. On the back a depiction of Ellis Island, Castle Garden or the Statue of Liberty would be appropriate.

The “immigrant mother” would be representative of that which has made America great: Opportunity, achievement and civil respect for the laws of a welcoming nation. In other words; the aspects of America that are being diminished or destroyed by today’s leaders of the Democrat party.

Facing us today is a choice; to honor one person or to honor the vital role played by millions of women who have and an immeasurable influence on America today.   

Currently the schedule for the redesign release is 2020, allowing for sufficient time for this choice to be considered in more detail.

Let’s hope the right choice is made.