Usually I’m not a big fan of national celebrations that designate a day or month in honor of a person or group. I’ll explain in a bit. Still, even given those sentiments there’s a person I’d like to highlight today as Women’s History Month kicks off: Hillary Rodham Clinton. With each passing year, I find my admiration of her only deepening.
Each night as I listen to the news as I drive home there is Clinton’s voice bellowing from my radio, as she travels to some new distant land. As I take in her words, I find myself shaking my head in absolute amazement: does she ever stop moving? When does she prepare, think, or even eat? How is she still standing?
Most of the heroes I admire are people who do extraordinary things in their ordinary daily lives. A youth sports coach who guides young boys and girls through their formative years despite few people ever fully knowing her true impact. A mother who is relentless in her dedication to keep alive her kid’s hopes in the face of horrendous conditions outside their front door. There is the community leader who insists on pushing for change when many others tell her to give in or give up – and yet she keeps going.
And then there is Clinton. Admiring her is not something I set out to do. It’s not as if I was an avid Clinton supporter during her run for president. Maybe that’s why I admire her so much now – it’s not that I even necessarily wanted to like her. I know lots of friends, acquaintances and colleagues who would go to the ends of the earth for Clinton. Some are Clinton groupies.
I am not. But what I am is someone who deeply respects and now roots for her. It is her doggedness, her pubic-spiritedness, even yes, a certain kind of humility, that draws me to her.
She left her troubles in The White House only to earn people’s respect after becoming a darn good U.S. senator from my home state of New York. She ran for president and demonstrated unending resolve, fortitude, and grittiness that were nothing short of inspiring. Her concession speech at the National Building Museum was one of the most beautiful and moving speeches I have ever heard.
But her efforts as secretary of state are the most appealing to me. Not because I necessarily support her policies, but because she represents the country with such dedication and affection. I always feel she is trying to figure out a path forward, has left no rock unturned, and has made the good fight. I admire that she found a way to work for a president who defeated her in a bruising, highly-emotional, history-making campaign. That’s not easy. And she’s done it with aplomb.
Few people have achieved what Hillary Clinton has done. And yet it is not her achievements that I admire most, but her love of country, her unending commitment to the plight of people, and her unflagging human spirit. Like the coach, the mother, the community leader I spoke of, Clinton has a deep urge within her that she has never allowed others to extinguish amid her failings and defeats.
If we’re not careful, “months” that celebrate one group or another can cheapen something we ought to cultivate within ourselves as a deeper awareness and sensibility. But, that said, on this day, the first of 2011 Women’s History Month, I want to celebrate Hillary Clinton. The more she separates herself from the rest of us through her achievements, the more she reflects the goodness and spirit within each of us.