March is Women's History Month. It is legally declared an international celebration. Women's History "Month" coincides with the International Women's History "Day" on March 8. In 1980 President Jimmy Carter proclaimed the "week" of March 8, 1980, as the first National Women's History "Week." This was expanded to Women's History "Month" by the United States Congress in 1987.

Since 1995 every United States president has issued an annual proclamation designating the month of March as "Women's History Month." This is a time to reflect on numerous but often-overlooked women's contributions to American history, culture, and society.

This is a time to celebrate the past and ongoing contributions of women to the United States. This made me think about women I have admired in my life. When I came to Bullock County as a young bride, I became aware of "older" women in the Historical Society.

These were women who volunteered their time and hard work to make possible the annual Chunnenuggee Fair, an authentic log cabin into a museum, and maintenance of the Old (Confederate City) Cemetery. Money was raised from the fairs to erect historical markers in Union Springs, Fitzpatrick, and Midway, and a book on the history of Bullock County was published. I remember Sarah Ogletree, Olivia McMillan, Lillian Branscomb, Ruth Brown, and Colleen Forrer. There was an "older" woman at church, Ruth Emfinger, who taught the Bible to young women in Sunday School.

She and Esther Harden worked as a pair to have "socials" for young married couples in the church. As I grew older, I became best friends with Letha Foster, who got her GED diploma, worked her way to the county director of OCAP, and raised two daughters. She was the key figure in saving Old Merritt School from being moved or demolished. My friend Elaine Taylor worked two jobs and assisted senior citizens at the Nutrition Center.

My friend Terri Bean, now the Nutrition Center manager, came to work four days after knee surgery, twice, in dedication to helping the senior citizens. During this COVID-19 pandemic, she oversees the distribution of nutritious lunches in drive-through by senior citizens.

As a young bride, I noticed how many widows there were who lived alone in Union Springs. Now I am one of those. I witness others who have become widows, learning to manage life on their own. I appreciate women who work as cashiers and cooks, especially in this pandemic. One statistic said grandparents raised 12% of Alabama's grandchildren, and I see grandmothers here in that line of duty.

Most of my school teachers were women. Only two were men. School teachers have a huge influence on the lives of their students. I remember most of the teachers who taught me to read in the first grade.

These women who work to make life better for others do not do it for public recognition and may not make it in "history books of the United States." But they are important in the personal history of our lives. Thank you, ladies.

---Faye Gaston

Union Springs, Alabama

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