Sometimes, in my old age, memories from earlier years suddenly come into mind. The brain does what it wants to do. Perhaps because it is Women’s History Month, my thoughts/memories were of some special women.

Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir in 1973. Credit: U.S. News & World Report collection/Library of Congress

Golda Meir came to mind (1898-1978). She was Israel’s head of government from 1964 to 1974, its first and only female prime minister. I can still see her face. One of my mom’s close female friends was Jewish, and my mother was as proud of Meir as if she was a relative or a close friend.

In her autobiography My Life, Meir wrote: “To me, being Jewish means and has always meant being proud to be part of a people that has maintained its distinct identity for more than 2,000 years, with all the pain and torment that has been inflicted upon it.”

Meir led my thoughts to other past powerful women. I thought of Indira Gandhi (1917-1984), who was the first and only female prime minister of India (1966-77 and 1980-84) until her assassination in 1984.

Chiang Kai-shek (1898-2003) was the first lady of the Republic of China. Her real name was Soong Mei-ling. In 1943, she was the first Chinese person and at the time the only woman to address a joint session of the U.S. Congress.

Mahalia Jackson in concert in Zurich in 1961. Credit: ETH-Bibliothek Zürich, CC BY-SA 4.0

Last but definitely not least, I thought of African American gospel singer Mahalia Jackson (1911-1972). Jackson moved to Chicago as a teen. As an adult, she was known as the Queen of Gospel. In 1950, she sang at Carnegie Hall. in 1961, she sang at President John Kennedy’s Inauguration. In 1963 she sang at the March on Washington at the request of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. In 1968, she sang at King’s funeral service.

There is a song that also came to mind called Precious Memories (written by John Braselton Fillmore Wright, 1877-1959).

“Precious memories … / Sent from somewhere to my soul/ How they linger, ever near me/ And the sacred past unfolds./ Precious memories, How they linger,/ How they ever flood my soul,/ In the stillness of the midnight/ Precious, sacred scenes unfold.”

Thank goodness for memories and memorable people.

March 21 – International Day for Elimination of Racial Discrimination

March 23 – Ramadan*

March 23 – World Meteorological Day

March 29 – National Vietnam War Veterans Day

*Ramadan begins the evening of March 22. It is the date of the first sighting of the crescent moon. Ramadan is an Islamic holy month ending on the evening of April 20. It honors when Allah is said to have revealed the Quran to Muhammad. (

Peggy Tarr

Peggy Tarr has been a columnist for the Evanston RoundTable since its founding in 1998. Born in Bruce Springsteen's hometown of Freehold, New Jersey, she graduated from Rutgers University with a degree...

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