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This Memorial Day, Remember Our Military Families

  • Family and Friend

05/22/09 | Suzanne Hogan, Special Assistant to The Librarian of Congress; Military Wife & Daughter | 5 Comments

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The American Flag at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. Photo from jcolman Flickr photostream.

Suzanne Hogan is a military wife and daughter. In this piece, she honors the families that have sacrificed their sons and daughters -- reminding us that it is because of their sacrifices that we can honor Memorial Day this Monday.

I saw a mom today, with her boy. There she stood letting go of his hand as he walked towards uncertainty. There he stood looking back at his life and all things familiar. I saw a mom today with her boy.

I saw a boy today with his mom. He moved forward, one small step at a time, turning every few seconds, to look at her. He offered her a smile that she most certainly has seen a thousand times before, yet this time…. that smile will be imprinted in her memory… forever.

I saw a mom today, with her boy. She waved to him as if to signal…see you later. Yet… there was a hesitation in the motion…a tremble in her hand. There is no confidence or exuberance within her grasp today. Her boy is leaving her behind, in the middle of an airport, at the rope line, with security and thousand of travelers; travelers who gripe and snarl and snipe at the added layers of questions and metal detectors and sentinels and interrogators and strangers that enter into their lives, requesting odd things like… remove your coat, take off your shoes, empty your pockets…. I saw a mom today with her boy.

I saw a boy today, with his mom. He is flying away to take care of the things that irritate us at airports. He is flying away to a life he most likely never dreamed of when he was a little boy, just five years younger ago; a boy who played Wii and Guitar Hero, and shot paintballs…a boy who listened to Kanye, Coldplay, and Green Day on his Ipod…and who dreamed of Britney and Beyonce and Giselle.

I saw a mom today, with her boy. She solemnly watched him fly away from his “souped-up” car and his PDA and his room with all of the posters, and that worn-out cozy comforter that she stitched for him three years ago…

I saw a mom today, with her boy. There she stood letting go of his hand and holding on to the last glimpse of him as he passed out of her sight, and out of her arms. There she stood, almost silent, trying to speak his name but the tears and pain would not release her words. Her boy is gone…to do a man’s job; yet, he will always be her boy.

* * *

…I saw a mom today, with her boy. She was leaving for work with a cup of coffee and a backward glance towards her boy asleep on the couch…home from his college books and last night’s party. My boy is home…and her boy is not. I do not know her name, but I will never forget her face.
Yes, I saw a mom today with her boy; there she stood, letting go of his hand...

Give her strength and keep him smart, give her hope and keep him safe, give her peace and keep him strong.

I saw a Mom today with her boy’s picture. Bring him safely home.

* * *

During this Memorial Day weekend, Moms will continue to take their sons and daughters to the airport to leave for distant and hostile sands. As we celebrate our freedoms and embrace a respite from our work week, let us never forget our troops and the families who helped to make this weekend possible.

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Taking Back the Power of Self-Worth

  • Family and Friend
  • Life Balance

05/1/09 | Dr. Cheryl Saban | 10 Comments

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Cheryl Saban is a writer and social commentator who holds a Ph.D. in psychology.

Does someone else need to acknowledge our worth to make it real?  Do we crave outside affirmation of our value because we are insecure by nature? 

If women are insecure as a gender, we’ve been given reason to be.

A woman’s culture – our upbringing, our environment, social cues, and our own strongly held beliefs that nuance our experience – defines female status.  And though it’s quite obvious that women have made enormous gains in terms of rights and participation, the global picture of the status of women and girls is not so rosy. When a governing power holds stubbornly to rigid stereotypes, cultural mores, and antiquated mindsets, there may not be much wiggle room for women to discover and express their worth. 

Imagine that you’re a woman living in a country and society which denies you freedom of travel, forbids you to possess your own passport, complicates or denies your access to education and female-centric healthcare, restricts your participation in government, your ownership of property, your ability to obtain loans, to work outside the home, drive a car, or have custody of your children.  Wow.  Seems to me that this lack of freedom and autonomy could easily impact a woman’s feelings of worth, could it not? 

And then there’s the prickly issue of how crime investigations – particularly in rape cases – have been handled in the U.S.  The recent outrage at the backlog of unprocessed rape kits is well deserved.  Rape kits can provide investigators with the evidence they need to find and prosecute rapists, but yet, for some inexplicable reason, many kits are languishing, unprocessed.  How could this be allowed to happen? Does this say something about how we are valued and respected?

Yet, perhaps it’s not that simple. 

Tough as it may seem, we need to realize our worth in order to actualize it.  And step-by-step, we are making changes.  Women are being called upon to take on even more challenges in the current economic environment, and we are clearly up to the task.  Now we need to build our community and support each other. Those of us who have rediscovered our voices, who can expose and express our self-worth, need to help clear the road for those among us who still struggle.

The Dalai Lama said, “According to Buddhism, individuals are masters of their own destiny.  And all living beings are believed to possess the nature of the Primordial Buddha, Samantabhadra -- the potential or seed of enlightenment, within them.  So.  Our future is in our own hands.  What greater free will do we need?”

Indeed.  Perhaps as young girls and women, we will be able to express that free will once more of us are able to model that behavior. 

What do you think about self-worth? We are all part of this important narrative. Share your thoughts with me.

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Project to Paint the Modern Portrait of the American Woman

  • Work and Money
  • Architects of Change

04/15/09 | The Women's Conference | 2 Comments

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On Tuesday, April 15, 2009, Maria Shriver announced a new project called, "A Woman’s Nation", which will take a new, empirical look at American women, who for the first time in our nation’s history, make up half of all workers and are becoming the primary breadwinners in more families than ever before.

This is a multifaceted project in partnership with the Center for American Progress and the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy. TIME magazine will also be involved in research and reporting, as well as co-presenting discussions and roundtables around the country.

“We will take a hard look at how women are doing in the United States today and consider the central question of the role government, business, and faith organizations, as well as individual women and men should play in supporting women’s role now in the workforce and the U.S. economy,“ said John Podesta, president and CEO of the Center for American Progress. “We look forward to teaming up with Maria Shriver on this important work.”

A Woman’s Nation will include roundtables, a national poll, and interviews with icons of the women’s movement and other prominent leaders. The preliminary report will be released in the fall, to be followed by a book.

“Examining ways to improve the lives of women in this country is a noble cause, and I congratulate Maria Shriver and CAP on launching this new venture,” said White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett. “As a true leader in this area, Maria brings the perspective of a professional journalist, a working mother, and a caretaking daughter. Maria’s contributions to better understanding American women today are invaluable, and we look forward to the results of this work.”

Read Maria Shriver's blog on The Huffington Post.

View press release.

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