Today is a day set aside to acknowledge the achievements and efforts of women around the globe, whether political, social, cultural or economic and, of course, to work toward true equality for all people everywhere. Equality is far from a reality in many places and is a goal we continue to strive toward.

I cannot help but think of all the women who have been a positive influence in my own life and give thanks for them. Naturally my mother is first and foremost on my mind – the sacrifices she made as she worked to raise her family. She cooked, cleaned, sewed clothing for us, nurtured and guided us – for many years in a house without electricity or running water. She was a wonderful woman for whom I will always be grateful. I stand in awe of her every time I consider all she lived through and all she overcame. She was my first hero and remains an example of the kind of woman I hope to be.

And then there are my sisters – two older and one younger than I. My older sisters are the most giving, thoughtful, and wisest women I know. I cannot begin to describe the impact they have had on my life. In many ways they served as surrogate mothers helping to take care of all of us and nursing us through the pains of childhood and the heartbreak and angst of the teenage years. My younger sister was and is my confidant and my best friend. All three have been a source of loving support, friendship, and wise counsel.

On this day I celebrate all the women in my life who have given generously of themselves time and time again – my mother, grandmother, sisters, aunts, daughters, sisters-in-law, cousins, nieces, teachers, friends, neighbors, and coworkers. None of whom are famous, but all of whom I celebrate today. I thank them for their strength, their courage and fortitude and for the heroes they truly are. For it is the everyday hero who make the biggest impact and whose strength and support keeps us moving forward.  I hope they know how deeply grateful I am for each and every one.

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