Way back in 1984, when Sarah Palin was running for Miss Alaska, and fresh out of high school where she had burned books and spent time as a hall monitor, sniffing around the other girls trying to detect which ones might be pregnant so she could report them to the Moral Majority, another woman was making national history.
In 1984, Walter Mondale selected New York Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro to be his running mate on the Democratic national ticket, making Ferraro the first Italian-American to run for the office of United States Vice President on a major party ticket, but more importantly, she became the first woman to do so. Unfortunately, the Republican ticket of Reagan/Bush beat the Mondale/Ferraro ticket in every state except for Mondale's home state of Minnesota, but a major glass ceiling had been shattered. Up until Ferraro proved herself more than capable on the campaign trail, no one believed that a woman could withstand the rigors of a national presidential campaign.
Ferraro ran for the U.S. Senate in 1992 and 1998, but lost both times, still feeling the effects of her husband's previous legal and tax troubles. But Ferraro's place in American history is secure; we would never have had a Hillary Clinton or Sarah Palin if Ferraro had not first paved the way. Only in Palin's case, she should take note, Ferraro earned respectability because she read history books, not burned them.
Ferraro died yesterday at 75 of cancer.