After her election in 1986, Sen. Barb, as she is called on Twitter and in conservation, was the only woman in the Senate. Today, 35 years later, she looks out on a vast array of women who total close to 100 in both houses of Congress.
Last week, senators tipped their hat to Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, honoring her for her 35 years of service. As Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. said,
“The Senate used to be a very lonely place for women, but Sen. Mikulski changed that.”
Republican Sen. Olympia J. Snowe of Maine said that Sen. Mikulski’s commitment was “a watershed moment in the life of American politics.”
And there is much to celebrate. In 2011, Mikulski became the longest-serving female senator, moving beyond that by Republican Sen. Margaret Chase Smith of Maine who served from 1949 to 1973.
Certainly, Sen. Barb has a lot to show for her long career. She recounted that she learned about the important of community service while watching her parents run a grocery store. She first won a seat on the City Council in Baltimore and then ran for Congress. In 2009, she was the leader in legislation that guaranteed equal pay for women.
Ironically, she thought about becoming a nun at one point in her younger years. As she said Wednesday, however, “That vow of obedience kind of slowed me down a little bit.”
A vast list of Senators came to honor Mikulski during the event that was thrown in her honor. As she said there,
“I didn’t start out wanting to be a historic figure.” She explained that her Catholic education taught her to “light one little candle” instead of looking at the world and wanting to “curse the darkness.”
As she explained, “Every morning, I’m saying in my heart, good morning, can I help you?”