Women, and all of us.

Today is International Women’s Day, and this is Women’s History Month, What follows fits the themes, in my opinion.

Much of this blog is from my long-time friend, Annelee Woodstrom, native of Germany, 96 years young.  That follows below.  At the end of the post I add my own comments.

I recommend an upcoming on-line workshop on Forgiveness.  I’ve enrolled.  At the very least check it out.  It begins next week, four sessions, all online.  Here’s the workshop; and here’s more about Louisa.  For those who don’t know about Louisa’s work, her next complimentary session is Thursday, March 23 at Noon and will be offered via Zoom.  Apply at her website.

And here are two commentaries on the Sunday event at Edmund Pettus bridge in Selma, Alabama.  Heather Cox Richardson’s Letters from an American; Joyce Vance’s Civil Discourse, both columns for March 5, 2023.

Now, Annelee’s letter, what she would like to say to potential Republican nominee Nikki Haley, sent me in a real letter! on Feb. 23.  The contents are shared with her permission:

Dear Nikki:

In your announcement running for Republican candidate for president in 2024, you stated “In the America I see, the permanent politician will finally retire,” said Haley, who served as U.N. ambassador during Donald Trump’s presidency. “We’ll have term limits for Congress. And mandatory mental competency tests for politicians over 75 years old.”  [from Politico by Kelly Garrity, 2/15/23]

Do you remember the elderly who had great impact on the world around the time they had celebrated their 75th birthday?

You would do well to remember Gloria Steinem, 88, who through her work earned the title of Hero of Feminism and without her you most likely would not be where you are today.

Let us recall those who had no brain tests; many were over seventy; they changed for the better the way we live today.


Buddha died when he was abut 80.  Buddhism is one of the world’s major religions over 400 million followers.

Pope Benedict died at 95  1.3 billion Catholics world-wide.

Martin Luther, the reformer, who died at 63, has millions of followers world-wide (over 800 million Protestants, about 80 million Lutherans).


Gandhi died. assassinated, at 78 – remember the changes he brought to India?

Sir Winston Churchill died at 90 – He inspired and led England to victory against Germany in 1945.

Konrad Adenauer, 91 when he died, called the oldest head of government – was leader of Germany after WWII.

President Biden is 80; his predecessor, who wants to run again, would in his 80s in much of a term as President.


Albert Einstein,who died at 76, is considered as one of the greatest and most influential physicists in the world.

Mother Teresa, who lived to 87, ministered to the world’s poorest.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, recently 82, guided America and the world through Covid-19.

Timeless Beauty

Michelangelo, lived to 88, for centuries his paintings  have inspired artists throughout the world.

The Brothers Grimm,  Jacob and Wilhelm, 78 and 73, at their deaths.  Their fairytales are enjoyed by children world-wide.

All of these 70 plus people, and countless others, contributed selflessly to today’s world and they enriched our lives.

Today’s grandmothers seventy’s and eighty’s take care o their grandchildren and great grandchildren while their parents work.

Nikki, millions over seventy built America to what it is today.  I resent your statement.

I am an immigrant who in 1947 spoke five words of English.  Since my family refused to join the Nazi Party, my formal education ended after 8th grade.

In 1967, I was married, had two children and attended college; in 1970 I fulfilled my life’s dream.  For twenty-two years I taught High School English, psychology, mass Media and I managed two libraries.  In 1998, after years of home care, my husband died.  At age 72 I wrote “War Child” published in 2003.  In 2007, “Empty Chairs” was published.  I was 91 in 2017 – “And So It Was” followed.

I am 96.  I truly believe that we must remember our past history and we must strive to learn from it or we will be condemned to repeat it.

Annelee Woodstrom


POSTNOTE by Dick Bernard.  I’m 100% northwest European ancestry.  In other words a white man.  That is my disclaimer for writing anything about this topic.  Most everything about me appears to set me on the wrong side of the issue of Women’s rights, native rights, etc.  Not so.  I’m by no means alone.  I’m only one of a very large crowd….

I noted that Annelee’s historical celebrities were 13 men and 3 women (I include Annelee as a wonderful representative of her crowd).

I assume that Annelee basically listed the first people who came to mind, which is fair enough.  But her list seems to show that only men were worthy of recognition for most of recorded human history including in our own country.  A more fair list would be at least 50-50, men and women, throughout history.

A given:  roughly one-half of the population is men, the other half, women.  In the United States, women did not achieve the right to vote until 1920, and the Equal Rights amendment to the constitution has not yet been ratified, and we’ve been a country for over 235 years.

(In the family archive, not immediately accessible but it will appear here soon, is a wonderful/awful photo of about 20 women in 1940s North Dakota.  It was a group of Church ladies, including my grandmother, and unlike most photos of the time every woman was identified on the back of the picture.

There was just one problem: Every single woman was identified as “Mrs. somebody or other”.  Not one had a first name.  One of the women, I later learned, likely didn’t have a known husband, but had a family, and a surname.  That was how it was.)

Freed slave African-American men achieved the right to vote long before women.  Of course, that experiment came to an early end in the reconstruction south, not to return for a great many years.

I did a quick internet search: about 75% of Americans are white; 63% of Americans are Christian – of course these definitions are very subjective because even within those demographics there is great variety.  None of the above subdivisions are monoliths – not all white men think alike, for instance.  Nor do women as individuals march to an identical drummer.  Stereotypes are self-defeating.

In the first U.S. election in 1790 less than 2% of the population of 3 million voted.  2.4 million of these were free, 600,000 were slaves.

We are one country, likely one of the most diverse in the world.  Those of us who can vote certainly should vote, very well informed.  We are liable for the results through our action or inaction.

A FINAL FOOTNOTE:  Ironically, one of the readings at my church, Basilica of St. Mary, on February 26 was from the book of Genesis, presumably but very unlikely authored by Moses; more likely by some unknown scribe or storyteller, a man or men sometime long before the Christian Era (BCE).

The text for Sunday was Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7.  this is the Adam and Eve and the serpent and the apple narrative….

What was left out of the reading were sections 2:18-24 (where woman was created out of man’s rib) and Ch 3:16-17 (where Eve takes the fall for eating the forbidden fruit, condemning she and her husband….)

This is not an easy reading in these times.  The Priest, who I  respect a great deal, in his sermon pointed out the missing pieces, added that even the Bible includes another creation story; and he also referred to one other creation story among many others outside the walls of the Christian Bible.  There is more than just “Adam and Eve”.  I think the decision of the Priest to flesh out a bit more of the story was important and enlightening.

Read all of the sections in your own Bible, if you have one, or on-line if you don’t.

We have the right and the responsibility to look beyond mere words for meaning.

Have a good International Woman’s Day.


As I was writing this a most interesting article came in authored by George Takei and Todd Beeton on the topic of Christian Nationalism.

Anyone who knows me in person knows that organized religion has always played a very important role in my life.  Belief in a higher power has never been an issue for me.  Who, What, How even Whether the Higher Power does his/ her/its thing is not a big deal for me.  There is something beyond us, beyond our comprehension as mere mortals.  Our fate is ours to make, manage, enhance or destroy within the bounds of our own being and background.

Organized religion has always played a role in social systems; by no means always positive or constructive role.  Look at War and Religion is not far in the background.

As I publish this, I think of what seems to have been almost an anthem in my own imperfect life: John Lennon’s “Imagine” here sung by John himself in 1972.

This morning at coffee I watched a lady draw this obviously heart-felt sketch of the Ukraine flag. It was touching.  As she was returning to sit down, I complimented her.  She also remarked on the tragic situation in Syria.  Watch, listen, speak, support, encourage….

COMMENTS (more at end of post):

from Christina: Thank you for sharing your blog with us. That Annalee is so impressive. You know some interesting people!

We sent a copy of this to my sister who is in her 70s and has just started substitute teaching, particularly with special needs children. This, after a full career with Northwest airlines and then another career with H&M.  She was like a mother to the young people working in that store.  They loved her, including her blue hair.

from Mike: Another great read.  Thank you.


If you know the names, you’ll want to see the below items:
A documentary is making the rounds nationally, about Julian Assange, including a showing in Woodbury MN on April 11.  Seating limited.  Information accessible here.

Dave sent along a piece of news about Daniel Ellsberg, here.


2 replies
  1. Kathleen Valdez
    Kathleen Valdez says:

    Well said, Dick!
    I have been pondering the images of God in the Christian world of the West and believe we are all made in God’s image and likeness.

    If this be Truth, then by logic and my human experience, God is then male/female/and.

    We must look beyond the human labels/boxes/judgment into the heart of God, embrace Truth knowing we continue to be created in God’s image and most importantly, that we are loved just as we are.

  2. MaryEllen Weller
    MaryEllen Weller says:

    A Happy Women’s Day to all, no matter your gender. Thank you to Annelee for these great reminders. One addition: be careful how you treat your elders. You will be one yourself some day (if you are lucky).


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