News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 8, 2006

As Delivered Remarks of Administrator Karen P. Tandy
At the Women’s History Month Celebration

Department of Justice, Washington, D.C. March 8, 2006

photo - Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, DEA Administrator Karen P. Tandy, and former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor at the Justice Department Women's History Month kickoff.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, DEA Administrator Karen P. Tandy, and former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor at the Justice Department Women's History Month kickoff.

When you think about our theme “Women: Builders of Communities and Dreams” one cannot help but think about some of the little known women who made it possible for us to have the communities of today by the role they played in building this great nation.

The demure, hoop-skirted women of the 1700’s were the same women who tricked the enemy—the Redcoats met their match when they invaded the home of a woman known only as Mrs. Murray, for Mrs. Murray plied the British generals with enough liquor to enable our small band of American soldiers to sneak past the Brits who vastly outnumbered them.

  • These are the same women who served as spies during our young country’s fight for independence. It was 16-year old Sybil Luddington who rode on horseback for some 40 miles to alert local militias to an imminent attack, saving our soldiers from certain death.

Only one American Revolutionary War veteran is buried at West Point—Margaret Corbin. When Margaret Corbin's husband was killed at the battle of Fort Washington, New York, it was Margaret who stepped into his battle station, where she was shot 3 times. And if you searched the U.S. Army pension records -- you would find that the Army awarded Margaret only half the pay and rations of a soldier….because she had been disabled by her wounds.

It was Margaret who successfully took on the Army before the Continental Congress……and Margaret not only got full pay but also the full soldier's ration, including the whiskey!

The spirit of these early American pioneers clearly was alive centuries later when women would revolutionize our country’s way of thinking, and create dreams that would become a reality in our time --women like:

  • Rosa Parks, who sat down and sparked the bus boycotts that awakened America’s conscience;
  • Candy Lightner -- who stood up as the founder of Mothers Against Drunk Driving -- and gathered an army of angry moms to deglamorize drinking and change our entire country's attitudes and laws about alcohol, from Hollywood to Congress to our highways.

And today, it is the

  • Legions of mothers and sisters, like Ginger Katz, Kate Patton, and Imelda Perez, who have been robbed of their loved ones by drugs. These women are now bringing together grass roots community coalitions from coast to coast. On June 8, they will convene in Washington for a national candlelight vigil to expose one of the gravest threats to our national security: the tragic waste of the talent and promise of tens of thousands of young people who die each year from drugs.

Today, our women in law enforcement now receive the highest awards for heroism -- going where others would flee -- to protect our communities. Women like DEA Special Agent Towanda Thorne who, with less than 5 years on the job, fearlessly fought a running gun battle with a drug dealer to secure the safe release of his hostage.

And today, it is said that the combat role of women in the military has been changed forever by the young uniformed women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan who are fighting and making the ultimate sacrifice for our American communities.

For more than 200 years, the common theme of all these extraordinary women, ironically, is how ordinary they were. Everyday, women who didn’t set out to change the course of history; but who saw a cause, a need, or an injustice, and through extraordinary courage and determination, built a stronger America.

And now it is my honor to introduce to you the son of one such woman….Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

General Gonzales rose from ordinary beginnings – the son of migrant workers, growing up in a 2 room house with 7 siblings—to lead our country during a time of unprecendented challenges to our legal system.

Attorney General Gonzales has built an extraordinary record of relying on the expertise and judgment of women and placing them in positions of leadership in the Department.

Right now, 5 of the Department’s 11 Assistant Attorneys General are women, as are the leaders of the:

  • Office of Public Affairs,
  • the Office of Intergovernmental and Public Liaison,
  • the Office of the Federal Detention Trustee,
  • the Community Relations Service, and of course,
  • the Drug Enforcement Administration.

It is an honor to lead DEA and I am pleased to be joined in leadership by Deputy Administrator, Special Agent Michele Leonhart. Together, with the 11,000 women and men of DEA, we are working hard to build safer, drug-free communities across America, and we thank the Attorney General for his strong leadership and support.

Ladies and Gentlemen, please join me in welcoming the 80th Attorney General of the United States, Judge Alberto Gonzales.

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