Marybeth Abraham – Biography Essay Women’s Studies (300 Level Course)
Open any historical text and one will find in bold face and color photos, the men and women that have shaped a nation. Abraham Lincoln, Bill Clinton, Martin Luther King Jr., each of these names signals in the minds and
hearts of the American people a recognition of time and space; a picture of the places where these people made history and the emotions that their actions incite.
However, does not the Constitution sing praise to the importance of each and every individual? Has society as historian overlooked the lives of everyday heroes such as elders, parents, and the young? Every human is historically significant, and one in particular, Marybeth Abraham, exemplifies this belief. Marybeth’s conscientious acknowledgement of this nation’s economy, nationalistic ties, social and political advancements, and historical events throughout the decades, combined with her dedication toward civic leadership and contributions as a mother, qualify her not only as a proud citizen, but also as positive proof that it is often the unsung hero who shapes everyday events into American History.
Marybeth Abraham, born Mary Elizabeth Hood, is the mother of six and wife of Don. Born July 5, 1921 in Mallard, Iowa, a mere 400 in population; Marybeth dreamed of life beyond her modest and struggling childhood. Her rich religious background and innate love for people helped her through what she calls the historical event that had the greatest impact on her life: WWII. It is then she learned the value of hard work and perseverance. Marybeth had several paying positions and one job which she humbly does not consider a career: motherhood. She worked early on as a teacher and at the post office, making money to support her family. Later, when she moved to Omaha, Nebraska, she took a job at Union Pacific Railroad, where she met Don who had just come back from fighting in the Pacific. After they married, they moved to Valentine, Nebraska where they presently live and own the Abraham Wholesale, where at the age of 79 Marybeth still works handling the company’s finances and accounting reports. Coming from little money to managing a company’s assets has sparked Marybeth’s attention to the national economy.
In the mind of Mrs. Abraham, the economic world, though still wrought with prejudices, has become more global, accepting and protecting other cultures and traditions. Citing the US’s economic interest in the Third World as an example, Marybeth says the economy has facilitated the rapid expansion of these country’s economies as well as benefiting our own. As a result, many Americans are now slowly becoming aware of human rights violations in these countries and are seeking solutions.
Her positive attitude toward the economy, however, does not extend to her attitude toward this nation’s patriotism. One can wonder how the once proud parents of the baby boomers reacted to the anger and retaliation of their children. According to Marybeth, the generations are becoming less and less patriotic. Even the pride that her generation felt has faded. She can only speculate that this loss of patriotism her generation feels is due to a realization of their disillusionment when they themselves were young and energetic children of the 40s.
This loss of patriotism coincides with a loss of morality. Marybeth firmly and proudly answered “Yes, very definitely” to the following question: “How do you feel about the culture your generation created? / Did your generation provide a society with high morals, ethical policies, etc. f
or future generations? She sees no problem mixing morals and government, either. In fact, she says, “We do it all the time. All laws are based on some moral issue.” The morals that her generation emphasized have created an America more conducive to diversity and peace.
While their morals have shaped our laws, their pursuit of knowledge certainly reinvented society. Marybeth feels that the medical advancements in particular have been phenomenal. For her, as a repeated stroke sufferer, this is an exciting time. She is wary of the moral consequences this new technology might entail, and feels that for most people her age there is a fear of getting involved in the “high tech stuff.” She also feels that this face-paced era of development has resulted in a loss of education for many. As a former teacher, she can not understand how one can graduate without being able to read. In her day, most everyone knew the basics: reading and writing.
With all of this knowledge and experience one may be curious what Mrs. Abraham feels is her greatest contribution to the history of this nation. One could assume it is her achievements as a woman. She is successful, career-oriented, and still manages to maintain the household. However, Marybeth says she never felt hindered as a woman. Sure other women were limited professionally, but she never was. She never felt men had the upper hand. “Men were very helpful to me as a woman,” They gave her respect. Marybeth feels, aside from having her children, her role as a pro-life activist is her contribution to the history of this nation. For years she campaigned through the state of Nebraska, exercising her first amendment rights. She even attended the 1980 Democratic Convention in NYC as a delegate from Nebraska. Oddly, she propositioned the pro-life platform to her fellow Democratic representatives. For Marybeth, morals equate into actions. This is what she believes, and this is what she continues to fight for. How does she differ from our founding fathers that fought for our nation’s independence because they believed so strongly in freedom?
History is the study of events and personalities that have shaped our present and give us a foundation from which to make decisions concerning our future. Marybeth Abraham is one of these personalities. She has had a hand in the economy, has remained true to the flag, has tested the triumphs of technology, and has helped shape a society’s political views. She is a mother and a model citizen that proves to anyone in question that is the individual who creates the words that so eloquently fill the pages of historical texts. It is hard to see this view without being forced to as with this project. Though difficult to encourage the subject to speak in depth of her contributions, it is well worth the historian’s time. Marybeth Abraham is triumph of American Spirit, yet she is more, she is my grandma.