By the President of the United States of America
Each August 26 we commemorate the ratification of the 19th Amendment to our Constitution. This Amendment guaranteed for women the right to vote and gave them an equal voice in our Nation's system of self-government. Passed by the Congress in June of 1919, the proposed Amendment was ratified by the Tennessee Legislature on August 18, 1920, and declared part of our Constitution on August 26.
Although the woman's suffrage movement had gained ground in preceding years, and although women already enjoyed the right to vote in some states, the contributions of women during World War I contributed significantly to gathering the force of public opinion behind the proposed 19th Amendment to our Constitution. President Woodrow Wilson noted that the services of women during the war were "of the most signal usefulness and distinction. The war could not have been fought without them, or its sacrifices endured." The achievements of women during that epic conflict underscored not only their desire but also their ability to act as full and equal partners in the life of our country.
Since the adoption of the 19th Amendment, as more and more legal and attitudinal barriers to their advancement have fallen, women have entered positions of leadership and responsibility in virtually every field of endeavor. For example, today women are not only providing support for our Nation's military personnel but also serving as members of the Armed Forces themselves. Through the workplace, through the ballot box, and, as ever, through their families and their communities, women are helping to shape America's future.
The anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment reminds us of our obligation to ensure that every individual has the opportunity to participate fully in the social, political, and economic life of our country. It also underscores the importance of having the right to vote and of faithfully exercising that right, so that this Nation might always be true to the ideals enshrined in our Constitution and Declaration of Independence.
Now, Therefore, I, George Bush, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim August 26, 1991, as Women's Equality Day. I invite all Americans to observe this day with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-fourth day of July, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America that two hundred and sixteenth.