Jackie Gingrich Cushman

When Margaret Thatcher was elected England's first female prime minister of England in the spring of 1979, I was 12 years old and my father had been a congressman for less than four months. To me, it seemed as if it would be only a short while until my own country followed suit and elected a woman to serve as president.

Of course, in my mind, it would be a conservative woman, strong willed, committed, determined and articulate. Like Thatcher.

Thatcher served as prime minster for more than 11 years, stepping down only after a power struggle within her own Conservative Party. By then, I had just received my graduate degree, was working as a consultant and was studying for the CFA exam, which I subsequently passed.

While I was neither a citizen nor a resident of Britain, Thatcher was ever dominant and prominent in my formative years. Along with President Ronald Reagan, she stood against the Soviet Union and shook the very foundation of communism, which resulted in the final collapse of the symbol of a divided world, the Berlin Wall.

This was a time where unlike today, arguments were clear, alternatives were known and faith in people rather than faith in governments or institutions won out.

While Reagan was known for his quick wit and self-depreciating humor, Thatcher was known for being strong-willed and determined. She reminded me of my mother: determined and results-oriented.

Thatcher was serious, her convictions were solid, and she had a clear moral compass but was still able to connect with everyday people. She was clear about her purpose: to save Britain from moral corruption and thereby change the course of history.

Change history she did indeed.

The least of her accomplishments was, perhaps, becoming the first woman to serve as prime minister. She went on to become much more -- she was the Iron Lady. Many of her beliefs ran counter to what is accepted as standard today.

"I came to office with one deliberate intent," she said in a speech in 1984, "to change Britain from a dependent to a self-reliant society -- from a give-it-to-me to a do-it-yourself nation. A get-up-and-go, instead of a sit-back-and-wait-for-it Britain."


Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.