From the Desk of Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy: April 8, 2011

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Women’s History — Looking Back and Ahead

As the first and only woman elected to Congress from Long Island, I have tried my best to address the issues that affect women the most, including education, public health and safety, and economic opportunity.

I owe a great deal of gratitude to the countless women who paved the way for women like me to contribute to society.  Unfortunately, we recently lost one of these pioneers, former Congresswoman and Vice Presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, when she passed away of blood cancer this week. Geraldine opened the door for a generation of new leaders.  She certainly was an inspiration – and ultimately mentor — to me as I sought my own path in public service years ago.

While we celebrate the achievements of the most public of figures this month, we must also celebrate the millions of women across the country who make a difference in their communities every day.  I was privileged to meet a number of them around the 4th Congressional District during this past Women’s History Month. 

There’s 94-year-old Lakeview resident Idella Harris, who works six days a week and is active in community service.  It was my privilege to honor her at the Lakeview Democratic Club recently.

It was also my privilege to honor Maria Ochiogrosso, an Army nurse who earned the Bronze Star and other medals during World War II. While Maria couldn’t attend the event held in her honor at the Northport VA Medical Center, I was proud to give the keynote speech there connecting her heroism during the war to the heroism that nurses and our armed services perform every single day.

This kind of heroism deserves our support; that is why I cosponsored the Women’s Veterans Health Care Improvement Act, legislation that would study the problems that female veterans face in order to improve overall health care for our military women.       

You probably know that Long Island has a higher than average rate of breast cancer. Last week, I had the opportunity to speak at the First Annual Long Island Breast Cancer Summit, where hundreds of breast cancer advocates and support groups, including many survivors, gathered to learn about the latest innovations and medical discoveries in breast cancer treatment.

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