Good-bye Geraldine Ferraro, thank you for all you have done

I believe I was in 2nd grade when I first learned about Geraldine Ferraro. We were discussing the office of US president. My teacher was a woman. She explained that a woman had never held the office of president or vice president, but one came close. She told us of Geraldine Ferraro, the first (and only woman at that time) to run for vice president, a huge accomplishment in and of itself . . . regardless of the outcome. I could see a light in her eyes as she talked. I felt a sense of hope that I didn’t fully understand or appreciate at that time.

I can look back now and understand my teacher’s reaction. She had lived through an age of oppression that I have only read about. Things that I grew up taking for granted were fought for by her generation and earlier. And Ferraro was a forerunner in that fight.

I was 5 years old when Ms. Ferraro became the first woman to run on a major party national ticket. I don’t remember that. I don’t remember most of what she did before or after that while it was happening. Instead, I was a child . . .  a little girl . . .  benefitting from her dreams, her hard work, her dedication.

Ferraro was an incredible person who proved that women were tough enough for politics. Judy Goldsmith, the president of the National Organization for Women in 1984 told People Magazine, “No one asks anymore if women can raise the money, if women can take the heat, if women have the stamina for the toughest political campaigns in this country. Geraldine Ferraro did them all.”

Always poised and ready to stand up for her position, Ferraro would not allow anyone to tell her what she could and could not say. Many did not agree with her politics (as is common with most politicians), but few discounted her class and style.

Today we lost Geraldine Ferraro to complications with multiple myeloma, the blood cancer that she’s been battling for 12 years.

President Obama said of her passing, “Michelle and I were saddened to learn about the passing of Geraldine Ferraro. Geraldine will forever be remembered as a trailblazer who broke down barriers for women, and Americans of all backgrounds and walks of life. Whether it was as a public school teacher, assistant district attorney, Member of Congress, or candidate for Vice President, Geraldine fought to uphold America’s founding ideals of equality, justice, and opportunity for all. And as our Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Commission, she stood up for those ideals around the world. Sasha and Malia will grow up in a more equal America because of the life Geraldine Ferraro chose to live. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her husband, John Zaccaro, her children and grandchildren, and their entire family.”

I couldn’t have said it better. Sasha and Malia are not alone. I am grateful for the path that Geraldine Ferraro helped pave for women in this country.

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