WHEATON, IL - Yesterday afternoon, August 26, State Representative Jeanne Ives was the keynote speaker at West Point’s 2013 Women’s Equality Day Observation Luncheon. Ives spoke on the topic of “Celebrating Women’s Right to Vote.” Her son, Nick Ives, a second-year cadet at USMA was in the audience, along with fellow classmates, faculty and staff.
Ives opened her speech by acknowledging that her contemporaries, like women enrolled at the academy today, are the beneficiaries of the courageous American women who had the perseverance to stand up for their beliefs and for the country and citizenship they envisioned. Her speech went on to describe the new battle over voting rights in which Americans are now engaged: ballot integrity and voter education.
Highlights from Ives' Speech Included:
+ Looking back at the struggle for equal rights, it is difficult to imagine that such a right was ever denied to women who birthed America’s families, sustained home-life and helped build this nation.
+ They stood up for a voice in the policies that were being written. Policies that would invariably – and without their consent, unfairly - have an impact on their lives. They weren’t asking for special treatment. They were fighting for equal treatment. And, it was a spectacular fight. They interrupted political speeches. They were arrested for acts of civil disobedience. They were thrownout of meetings. They were thrown in to jail. They shocked the nation. They brought attention to their cause. And, they changed America.
+ In my short tenure in the Illinois State Legislature, my training at West Point has been vital to being able to stand on principle. If only there was some form of pre-election boot camp for aspiring politicians. As cadets at West Point, we take a pledge to “not lie, steal, cheat or tolerate those who do.” We are educated and trained to serve to our country and our communities with honor.
+ As women who have been trained to serve, we stand on the frontlines of a new conflict. Ballot integrity initiatives are the modern battleground in the struggle surrounding voting rights. The Machiavellian nature of American politics, when combined with the mega-data ability of political parties and special interest groups, has made defending the vote even more critical.
+ As Thomas Paine stated in “The Rights of Man,” “A nation under a well regulated government, should permit none to remain uninstructed. It is monarchical and aristocratical government only that requires ignorance for its support.” It is our responsibility not just as mothers and teachers, but as Americans, to ensure the future of a country founded on liberty and independence does not die at the hands of a generation focused more on personal security and comfort than sovereignty.
+ As women, we must recognize that the rights and freedoms that we have been given are complete only when we uphold those rights for all. As mothers, we are our children’s first nurturers and educators. We must celebrate not only the powerful qualities that are feminine, but also those that are uniquely masculine. We have to raise our boys be strong, honorable men, just as we raise our girls to be confident and admirable women.
Ives served in the US Army after graduating from West Point with a Bachelor of Sciencein Economics. Her assignments included platoon leader and headquarters detachment commander for transportation units in Germany and ROTC instructor at Wheaton College.
Prior to her election to the Illinois State House, Ives served on the Wheaton City Council where her tenure was marked by conservative leadership and an unwavering commitment to the taxpayers’ bottom line.
When asked about being asked to return to her alma mater to speak, she replied, “It was an honor to be asked to deliver the keynote address at USMA’s ‘Women’s Equality Day’ event. I recognize the character and influence of the individuals who have been a part of the Long Grey Line. I look forward to a discussion on the ways in which we can best venerate the work of those who stood on the front lines for women’s equality during the suffrage movement.”