Written by Lt. Erin Chlum
August 26 marks the 95th Anniversary of the Woman’s Suffrage Movement, a day which memorializes the fight for equal rights and celebrates the passage of the 19th Amendment on August 20, 1920. Coast Guard Training Center Petaluma held a Woman’s Equality Day Race to celebrate this pivotal day in history and honor the pioneers who fought for women’s equality.
The celebration kicked off with a reading of the Joint Resolution of Congress from 1971, which designated August 26 of each year as Women’s Equality Day. This resolution celebrates the united fight by thousands of men and women to assure equal rights regardless of sex, a fight that among many other things, led to the passing of the 19th Amendment which granted women the right to vote. Race participants learned about the women’s suffrage movement as they ran, carrying information cards about suffrage leaders and their roles in the fight for equality. The runners swapped cards at three checkpoints to celebrate the accomplishments of 75 suffragists such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, as well as lesser-known figures like Abigail Scott Duniway and Jessie Annette Jack Hooper.
“Runners gained an appreciation for the magnitude of this movement and for the heroes whose bravery and relentlessness changed the culture of an entire nation,” said Cmdr. William Gibbons, executive officer of Training Center Petaluma.The foundation for this event was laid in 2014, when the training center hosted Ms. Anne Layzer from the League of Women Voters of Marin County, who discussed the history of Women’s Equality Day.
“Ms. Layzer’s presentation on her great-great grandmother’s experiences at the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 compelled us to continue to learn about and honor these women,” said Lt. Molly Keyser, vice chair of the TRACEN’s Leadership Diversity Advisory Council.
The event was especially significant for Petty Officer First Class Mallory Stonehouse, who had the opportunity to speak at the opening of the “In a Heart Beat” exhibit at the Women in Military Service of America Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery in 2014
“I met several trail blazers from the military services, and their courageous stories left me humbled with the progress we’ve made,” remarked Stonehouse. “I promised the female veterans that I’d continue their efforts to ensure the service for future female generations remains positive, and I feel that our celebration of this day is a step in the right direction.”