By the President of the United States of America
Women's History Month provides a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the myriad contributions and achievements of American women -- from the millions of unsung heroines who have strengthened our Nation through their homes, families, and communities to the many celebrated women who have enjoyed more widespread recognition and fame. While this occasion helps to bring honor where it is due, we must nevertheless resist the notion that "women's history" is somehow separate from the rest of history. In fact, they are thoroughly entwined.
When our ancestors fought for this Nation's independence, when they pushed westward across the frontier, women played integral, if not then widely acclaimed, roles in the success of the great American experiment. They shared in the labors that produced thriving farms and towns across this great land, and they helped to nuture in their children the faith and the love of freedom that have long characterized the American dream.
Over the years, women have continued to share in the pioneer spirit, and this month we remember in a special way those who were early leaders in their respective fields. We gratefully recall women like Emma Hart Willard and Elizabeth Ann Seton, who helped to shape American education, as well as trailblazers like Elizabeth and Emily Blackwell, who were two of the first women in the United States to earn medical degrees. We also recount the achievements of women like Maria Mitchell, an astronomer, educator, and the first woman to be elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and Lousie Bethune, who in 1886 became the first woman elected to the American Institute of Architects. These noted women were just a few of the many who have helped to open doors of opportunity for others.
More than the collected stories of pioneers and their progeny, history also traces and development of principles and ideals -- and the epic struggle for human freedom and progress. Thus, this month we also remember those women who have helped to uphold this Nation's promise of liberty and justice for all. Well over a century ago, women like Harriet Tubman, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Sojourner Truth helped to wage the triumphant struggle against slavery. These heroines have been followed by other courageous women, such as Ida Wells-Barnett and Rosa Parks, who made further contributions to the fight for equality by calling public attention to the evils of bigotry and segregation.
Many women who opposed slavery and segregation in the United States were also early supporters of the women's suffrage movement, and vice versa. For example, we recall Lucretia Mott, a well-known abolitionist who also worked with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony to secure for women the right to vote. These women and the countless others who joined their ranks shared a strong commitment to the ideals of equal opportunity and fairness, and their efforts helped to increase the participation of women not only in politics but also in virtually every field of endeavor.
Devotion to the ideals on which the United States is founded has inspired millions of women to engage in service to our country. As demonstrated last year by U.S. military operations in the Persian Gulf, we have come a long way since the days of Sarah Edwards, who disguised herself as a young man so she could help defend the Union during the Civil War. Today women not only play highly visible and important roles in America's Armed Forces but also hold positions of leadership and responsibility in government, business, education, science, and the arts.
Most important, women continue to strengthen and enrich this country by helping their children to recognize the value of learning, as well as the importance of self-respect, personal responsibility, and respect and concern for others. Ideed, our families and communities constitute the basic fabric of America, and the women who have strengthened these institutions merit as much recognition and thanks as the great historical figures whose achievements we celebrate this month.
The Congress, by Public Law 102-70, has designated March 1992 as "Women's History Month" and has authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of this occassion.
Now, Therefore, I, George Bush, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim March 1992 as Women's History Month. I invite all Americans to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this sixteenth day of January, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and sixteenth.