ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- A crowd of nearly 100 gathered to celebrate Women's History Month at an observance hosted by Army Sustainment Command at Heritage Hall here March 26.

According to the National Women's History Project, this year's theme, Celebrating Women of Character, Courage, and Commitment, honors the extraordinary and often unrecognized determination and tenacity of women. Against social convention and often legal restraints, women have created a legacy that expands the frontiers of possibility for generations to come. They have demonstrated their character, courage and commitment as mothers, educators, institution builders, business, labor, political, religious and community leaders, relief workers, and CEOs. Their lives and work inspire girls and women to achieve their full potential and encourage boys and men to respect the diversity and depth of women's experience.

Judith Morrell, director of the Davenport Civil Rights Commission, was the keynote speaker.

Morrell's speech centered on the plight of Lilly Ledbetter, a woman who fought diligently to achieve pay equality. Years of court battles led all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where her case was overturned. Undaunted, she jumped into the political arena to continue her fight for pay equality. Her lobbying paid off when President Barack Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law Jan. 29, 2009. The "Lilly Law" was the first bill signed into law by Obama.

"I feel that Lilly is our modern day Rosa Parks," Morrell said. "I feel so proud today to talk about Lilly and I hope that I've given you a little bit of information so that you know a little bit more about Lilly Ledbetter."

Participants didn't just learn a little … they learned a lot.

"This was a great event, very informative," said Carmen Ausborn, from the RIA Garrison Equal Employment Opportunity Office. "I knew of Lilly and the [Lilly Ledbatter Fair Pay] Act, but I learned a lot more about her today. I also enjoyed the video highlighting the plight of today's female Soldiers."

According to the Law Library of Congress' guide to the legislative history of Women's History Month, the observation had its origin as a national celebration in 1981 when Congress passed Pub. L. 97-28, which authorized and requested the president to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as "Women's History Week."

Throughout the next five years, Congress continued to pass joint resolutions designating a week in March as "Women's History Week." In 1987 after being petitioned by the National Women's History Project, Congress passed Pub. L. 100-9 which designated the month of March 1987, as "Women's History Month."

Between 1988 and 1994, Congress passed additional resolutions requesting and authorizing the president to proclaim March of each year as Women's History Month. Since 1995, Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama have issued a series of annual proclamations designating the month of March as "Women's History Month."

Women's history is important to the Army because of the extensive collective contributions of women to the country. Women work in every facet of American life and have demonstrated mettle in countless ways, one of which is soldiering.

Even before they could serve officially as Soldiers, women served the Army in various positions and became invaluable sources of support for fighting troops. They shared hardships during wartime and some even shared duties in combat.

"I hope someday that we're not sitting here celebrating Women's History Month," said Col. Robin Moralez, ASC SHARP program manager, who provided closing remarks. "That might sound a little strange to say, however, it goes back to what Sergeant First Class [Gail] Amend read in her opening remarks: 'in hopes that the day will soon come when it's impossible to teach or learn history without remembering the contributions women have made. It will be so ingrained in us, and so taught to us in our schools, that our great grandchildren won't have to celebrate one month, they will be learning about it every day.'"

For more than two centuries, women have served and sacrificed as members of the Army profession. Today's female Soldiers continue to serve with valor and distinction, carrying on the rich and long tradition of character, courage and commitment that makes the Army the "Strength of the Nation." History is clear: when put to the test, the women in the Army stand tall with their brothers-in-arms to prevent, shape, and win the nation's wars.

"Things went really well," said Sgt. 1st Class Raymond Gonzales, ASC Equal Opportunity advisor, after the event. "It is important to recognize the contributions women have made to our society. It is also important to remember the fight still going on to achieve full equality for all."

Welcoming remarks for the event were provided by Amend. The national anthem was performed by Linda Robertson, RIA Garrison SHARP victim advocate.

The invocation was conducted by First Army Chaplain (Maj.) Joe Hammiel

For additional photos of the event, go to the ASC Flickr Page at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/army_sustainment_command/sets/72157643011160773/

For more information on Women's History Month, visit:

Presidential Proclamation - Women's History Month, 2014
http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/03/01/presidential-proclamation-womens-history-month-2014

Women in the U.S. Army
http://www.army.mil/women/

Women in the U.S. Army resources
http://www.army.mil/women/resources/index.html

Army G-1 Women in the Army
http://www.armyg1.army.mil/hr/wita/

U.S. Army Women's Museum in Fort Lee Virginia
http://www.awm.lee.army.mil/

Page last updated Thu March 27th, 2014 at 00:00