America took a giant step forward last night, Vera. For the first 228 years of our constitutional national government, no woman had been nominated by a major political party for the presidency of the United States. Last night that changed. Last night Hillary Clinton accepted the nomination of the Democratic Party.
Whether or not you support Ms. Clinton, the historical significance of this moment can’t be lost on you. And if you have a daughter or granddaughter, its significance takes on even greater meaning.
I don’t know what the world will look like for women when you’re an adult, Vera. But I sincerely hope you step into an adult world that doesn’t stand in your way simply because of your sex. We’re not there yet, but we’re closer than we were. Last night helped. A lot.
When I was your age, women didn’t have the same opportunities as men — not by a long shot. They were herded into “womanly” careers, such as teaching and nursing. They were constantly being told what they couldn’t do. But all of that began to change with my generation, the baby boomers (those born from 1946-1964).
The girls of my generation (and subsequent ones) didn’t accept the constraints of their forefathers and foremothers. They knocked on the doors of our medical schools, law schools and business schools, and they wouldn’t accept no for an answer. They started to change the world. And for the better.
Equality still isn’t a reality, of course. Our Congress, state legislatures and corporate board rooms remain male dominated. Women are still punished in the workforce. They’re still being paid less for the same job. And they’re still not receiving the same opportunity for leadership positions as men.
Some people have trouble accepting equality, whether on religious grounds or simply plain vanilla bigotry or prejudice. And some women are struggling, too — struggling with the best way to marry a career with motherhood. It’s not easy being a woman. My hope is that it will get easier with time.
I hope Washington, our state capitals and our corporate board rooms better reflect our country, and soon. I hope to see more women and diversity. It’s coming.
So what does that mean to me, the grandfather of a little Midwestern girl who just began to walk this month? It means a lot.
It means that my dreams for you aren’t constrained as my great-grandfathers’ dreams were for their daughters and granddaughters. It means you may be allowed to fulfill your dreams and aspirations and not be locked out because you don’t have a Y chromosome.
This is a great day for America. But it’s even a greater day for fathers and grandfathers. I hope it’s an equally great day for you, Vera.