As each year ends, one of the rituals we've come to expect is recognizing the many notable people who have died during the year.
In 2009 most of those lost were men. We mourned the passing of politicians Edward Kennedy and Jack Kemp; sports figures Steve McNair, Chris Henry and Chuck Daly; entertainment/media personalities Michael Jackson, Dom DeLuise, Karl Malden, David Carradine, Patrick Swayze, John Hughes, Ed McMahon, Don Hewitt, Billy Mays, Les Paul and Walter Cronkite; and authors John Updike, Dominick Dunne and Frank McCourt.
We also mourned the passing of some notable women: Farrah Fawcett, Natasha Richardson, Mary Travers (of Peter, Paul & Mary), Bea Arthur and Brittany Murphy.
But 2009 was a watershed year for women, not only because of those who passed, but also because of those who carried on, in many ways deserving of recognition.
We witnessed the swearing in of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State (only the second woman to hold that position in our nation's history) and Sonia Sotomayor as a Supreme Court Justice (only the third woman justice in history, and the first Latina justice).
We saw Diane Sawyer take the reins as evening news anchor for ABC Network, first woman to achieve that solo position.
This year we also witnessed the rise of immigrant and naturalized citizen Indra Nooyi to the position of Chair and CEO of Pepsico, one of our nation's largest and most successful mega-corporations. Nooyi was also named NewsMax Magazine's Woman of the Year.
We watched as Sarah Palin, former governor of Alaska and former vice-presidential candidate, crisscrossed the nation on a book-signing tour that garnered more publicity than the International Climate Conference.
We saw history made by women in the entertainment industry. Susan Boyle, a middle-aged woman from Scotland, became an international singing celebrity whose debut album outsold, in its first two weeks, any album by any female artist ever. And just this past week, Meryl Streep, unarguably America's greatest living female star, premiered as the romantic lead in a movie ("It's Complicated") at age 60! Unbelievable.
In the political area we now have more women in positions of authority, both in government and corporate America, than ever in our nation's history.
This year we also witnessed occurrences that marked new lows and new highs in American society as it applies to women.
Low: We saw the merciless and despicable reputation massacre of Hadassah Lieberman by blogger Jane Hamsher, all because Lieberman's husband had the audacity to oppose the senate's healthcare reform bill. Hamsher's attack on Lieberman was woman-to-woman dirty politics, plain and simple. For shame!
High: We witnessed the inauguration of our first African-American president, ending forever the spurious notion that the prospects of any mother's child in America are limited by the color of his skin. A win-win for us all.
Now, if we could just elect a woman president ... stay tuned, America!