SOUTH PORTLAND — As a human resources professional for over 25 years, I find that since I passed the age of 50, trying to remember in detail events that occurred 20 years ago can sometimes be difficult. There is, however, one event from the summer of 1995 that I remember as clearly as if it were today.

In late July of 1995 I found myself in our nation’s capital on business travel, back when I was working for the nonprofit Training & Development Corp., which had its corporate headquarters in my hometown of Bucksport.

My parents, Ed and Pat Ranzoni, also had planned a trip to Washington that coincided with my trip, so of course, we made plans to stay together.

I knew it must be something very important to pull them away from their farm on Bucksmills Road at the height of the summer gardening season.

They were invited to attend a reception to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the July 26, 1990, signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, along with other disability advocates from across the country who had worked toward the passage of this landmark law.

At that point, I remember, Mom was moving around (when she went out in public at all) mostly in a wheelchair. “Big deal,” you might be thinking, but it was truly different back then, especially for those who lived in more rural areas of the country. It was not an easy path – literally.

Mom did not grow up with her disability, but was diagnosed later in life with dystonia, a neurological movement disorder that pulled her from her own professional career in her early 40s. Her life changed markedly when she lost her mobility.

A decade later, Mom was much more comfortable using her wheelchair in order to get out and about to special events, but it did not happen very often, and traveling by air was (and unfortunately still is) very difficult for her. Needless to say, getting to D.C. was for sure “a big deal.”

Mom was an early advocate for disability rights, even before she became disabled herself. At a time when such things were considered unreasonable, she asked for some very basic adjustments to some of the most fundamentally public services.

She asked if the post office could have an accessible entrance. In the era before an elevator was installed at the town hall, she asked if the meetings pertaining to town business could be held somewhere other than the building’s second floor.

She asked these things not only for herself, but also for others, who she believed deserved the same access to public services that able-bodied citizens enjoyed.

She asked for an elevator to be installed at the high school so that one of the only students who used a wheelchair for mobility could access the library and other classes held on the second floor. Otherwise, this young woman would have had to rely on others to physically carry her there, or bring the services (which obviously were not the same) down to the first floor – like some kind of a favor.

I knew I was proud of my mother’s work as a disability rights advocate. But I had no idea how much that would affect me until I walked with her and my father – pushing her proudly on that sweltering hot afternoon in D.C – to the special reception held to recognize the fifth anniversary of the signing of the ADA by President George H.W. Bush (who, we see these days, is using a wheelchair himself to get out and around his Kennebunkport summer home).

As we walked toward the building where the event was to be held, there were literally hundreds of other people with disabilities coming in from all angles, all headed to the same place. People in wheelchairs, moving along on canes, walkers and crutches – both manual and mechanized – knowing this was a momentous occasion worth every ounce of effort it took them to get there.

It was overwhelmingly beautiful and powerful, and it made me realize once again how much I admire my mother for always standing up (even when she couldn’t) for the right thing.

I will carry with me forever this 20-year-old memory of my mother’s “big day” in Washington, D.C. And more importantly, I will always do whatever I can to protect the rights of people with disabilities in every part of my life where I have influence, both personally and professionally.