Mar. 5, 2009 - Womens History Luncheon
March 9, 2009
ItAca,!a,,cs a great opportunity every once in a while to get together and think about our history as an Army. And every time we have one of these events, I always have the Center of Military History go back and give me the history. This month I said: Aca,!A"Tell me the history of women in our Army.Aca,!A? They do about a twenty-page paper. ItAca,!a,,cs always fascinating because I always learn something.
Things like: Mary Walker won the Medal of Honor in 1865. She was one of the first female physicians in the United States Aca,!A| and a military surgeon.
Things like: 1901, the establishment of the Army Nurse Corps; 1943, the establishment of the WomenAca,!a,,cs Army Corps. It took twenty-seven years after the establishment of the WomenAca,!a,,cs Army Corps until we had our first brigadier generals Aca,!" Anna Mae Hays and Elizabeth Hoisington. I look around here, and I see a lot of ROTC and West Point cadets; 1973 was the first year that women were accepted into ROTC. It seems like a hundred years ago. 1976, the first year women entered West Point. 1978, the WomenAca,!a,,cs Army Corps was disestablished, and Mary Clarke was made the first two-star general.
I look back at this, and I look at a kind of thread about women in the military Aca,!A| up until about the late Aca,!Eoe70s / early Aca,!Eoe80s, it was all about finding manpower (Aca,!A"woman-powerAca,!A?), so that men could go do other things. It really came to a head in the Aca,!Eoe70s as we were trying to build the volunteer force. You see the percentage of women in the Army jump from less than 1 percent in 1968 to over 7.5 percent a decade later. And itAca,!a,,cs all been great since then.
1997 Aca,!" nineteen years after we appointed our first two-star Aca,!" Claudia Kennedy was made our first three-star.
And then November 14, 2008 Aca,!" eleven years after that Aca,!" it was a great day for the Army when we promoted Ann Dunwoody. I had the honor to promote Ann. I must say, there was so much positive energy in the room that day Aca,!A| it was really amazing. IAca,!a,,cm going to read you something that was sent to her. It really encapsulates that day and, really, what we stand for as an Army.
Aca,!A"You wonAca,!a,,ct remember me, maAca,!a,,cam, but I worked with you on a few occasions back when you commanded the 782nd at Fort Bragg back in the early Aca,!Eoe90s. To this day, I remember you as one of the most gifted officers IAca,!a,,cve worked with in my seventeen years in the military. Now you get to pin on our nationAca,!a,,cs highest military rank, and I get to tell my five and seven year-old daughters that they really can be anything they want to be, including a general in the United States Army. That is change and progress that makes me proud to be an American soldier. Congratulations!Aca,!A? Aca,!" Master Sergeant Michael Bergener.
I couldnAca,!a,,ct say it any better. ItAca,!a,,cs change and progress that makes me proud to be an American soldier, too. ItAca,!a,,cs change and progress that is only going to continue Aca,!A| I hope exponentially.
Thank you all for all you do. ItAca,!a,,cs been great to spend a few minutes with you. And now, I would like to introduce my partner and boss, Pete Geren, the Secretary of the Army.