SHAHEEN HONORS GERALDINE FERRARO
The Senator delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor.March 29, 2011
As prepared for delivery:
Madam President, it is with deep sadness and great admiration that I rise today to honor the life of Geraldine Ferraro. Her trailblazing career in public service was an inspiration.
Gerry’s work as an Assistant District Attorney made her a champion for women and children, and social justice. The daughter of Italian immigrants, she worked her way through college. Following her graduation, she began her career in public service as a schoolteacher before eventually pursuing a law degree. Gerry was then elected to Congress, where she distinguished herself quickly, and gained the respect of her colleagues as a tenacious legislator.
Her selection as the first woman on a major party’s presidential ticket was as historic as it was inspiring. Women of my generation will remember where they were when they heard the news that Geraldine Ferarro was named as Walter Mondale’s running mate. It was a thrilling moment – the very thought that a woman could serve as vice president of the United States inspired an entire generation of women to higher aspirations.
I attended the 1984 Democratic Convention, and I can still remember how Gerry’s acceptance speech electrified the Convention hall. And, while Gerry never did get the opportunity to serve as Vice President, her example opened so many doors, and changed countless minds about the role of women in public service. As Gerry once said, “Every time a woman runs – women win.”
Senator Mikulski, whom I thank for organizing today’s tributes, began her time in this chamber as the first Democratic woman Senator elected in her own right. I hold the honor of being the first woman elected as both Governor and U.S. Senator. Along with all the women in Congress, we owe Gerry a debt of gratitude for paving the way.
Gerry remained committed to public service and social justice throughout her life. She taught at Harvard and served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, where she brought her advocacy to the international community.
Gerry worked tirelessly on the behalf of human rights and women’s issues around the globe. She dedicated her public service to the ideals of respect and equality, and she lived a career that called on all women to challenge the glass ceilings of the world. Gerry’s life was a powerful example for the women in the Senate who are honoring her today, and for our daughters and granddaughters.
We thank her for leading the way.
She will be missed.
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