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Sen. Nelson's wife visits

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Talk centers around women's right to vote

Grace Nelson, wife of Florida’s senior Sen. Bill Nelson, celebrated Women’s Equality Day Aug. 26 with 120 enthusiastic guests of the Democratic Women’s Club of Marion County at the Silver Springs Shores Community Center .

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Women’s Equality Day commemorates the ratification in 1920 of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution which gave women the right to vote after a long and difficult journey that included horrendous challenges along the way.

After thanking club president Diane Schrier, event chair Mary Pat Giffin and second vice president Francine Julius-Edwards, the elegant and gracious lady used the occasion to call attention not only to the heroism of the suffragettes of all races in whose honor most attendees wore white but also to the struggle against a double standard which women continue to experience in many aspects of their lives.

Acknowledging that they are often invisible, overlooked and uninvited to the public square, Nelson told attendees “You are my heroes. I know what women do to make the world better. And I know that we will never stop giving and fighting despite the heartbreak of 2016.”

“Never despise the day of small beginnings,” she continued, pointing out that she and Bill began his first electoral run by walking door to door for nine months, a technique which she insists is still a powerful key to success when combined with humility and respect for each and every individual one meets. Such personal connection is important when waving signs as well. “Look at the drivers when you’re rallying on the streets and then remember to go back to thank them after an election.”

Given the difficulties at all levels of public and personal discourse, Nelson called for the courage exhibited by the women of Rwanda and of Malawi with whom she’s formed strong friendships. “Our role is to build relationships and to keep asking questions of one another in order to change the conversation. Issues are not the problem. Our problems are heart and thinking problems. We must require accountability and give every breadth we have to fight those bent upon destroying our institutions. We can’t stay quiet.”

Citing her husband’s history of bipartisanship, Nelson said “it’s what makes government work.” Even now under the radar, 16 moderate members of the Senate meet for dinner every Thursday evening. Eight are Republicans and eight Democrats. All are attempting to create win/win situations for one another as they work to stand shoulder to shoulder on issues.

When Sen. Nelson flew on the space shuttle Columbia in 1986, the first night he noticed the lights of the Kennedy Space Center and our great cities. The second night he saw continents but by the third night he understood that the earth is our home. No nations, no borders are to be seen from space he told his wife. “We are family.”

Grace Nelson concluded her formal remarks by noting that a variant of “Do unto others as you would have them do to you” exists in the holy scriptures of all religions . To this end the Nelsons often present prints of Norman Rockwell’s “Family of Man” as thank you gifts. Saturday Diane Schrier and Francine Julius-Edwards were thrilled to receive copies, as thrilled as were everyone who heard Nelson’s strong call for courage and unconditional love in dealing with the challenges before us.