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Brigadier General Jeffrey Phillips, 3rd IDdeputy commanding general-rear, presents Lilly Ledbetter, guest speaker at Fort Stewart’s Women’s Equality Day, with a token of appreciation, as Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Ashmen, 3rd ID command sergeant major-rear, looks on.

<b>FORT STEWART, Ga. </b> - There was standing room only as kundreds of Marne Soldiers, Family Members, community leaders and Army Civilians came together to honor Women's Equality Day with an observance at the Main Post Chapel, Aug. 11.

The theme of this year's event was "Celebrating Women's Right to Vote," honoring the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, and this year's added theme was Honoring the Struggle of Visionary Women, hosted by the 3rd Sustainment Brigade-rear, 3rd Infantry Division.

"Women's Equality Day is an opportunity for us to recognize the contributions women have made to the nation and to honor those who blaze trails for women's empowerment and equality," said Suzanne Guss, 3rd ID Chief of Protocol.

"Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, to be treated as a value added member of the team, and to be rewarded based on their performance and contributions. Great individuals have the conviction to stand for something of purpose and to make a positive difference in the lives of many," said Lt. Col. James Brown, Commander 260th Quartermaster Battalion as he introduced Lilly Ledbetter.

Ledbetter, best known for her fight for equal pay for equal work from when she sued her former employer, the Alabama-based Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, after she received an anonymous letter notifying her that she had been paid almost 30 percent less than her male coworkers doing the same work. After nearly a decade of court battles that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and scrutinized political bureaucracy in Washington, she finally earned her day. Although her appeal was initially rejected at the U.S. Supreme Court, she finally found victory when the decision was reversed by President Barack Obama, when he singed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into Law. The new law amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 stating that the 180-day statute of limitations for filing an equal-pay lawsuit regarding pay discrimination resets with each new discriminatory paycheck.

"I never did it for the money," said Ledbetter. "Millions were originally awarded and after all was said and done, I did not get a dime.

"The law suit was not about the money; it was about what was right and about how I was raised," said the proud Alabamian. "It was about my American civil rights, about what I had earned and what I was entitled to."

Upon completion of Ledbetter's speech, a panel of the areas women including Ledbetter gathered on stage to answer questions from members of the audience. The panel included Vicki Jeffries, former U.S. Forces Command Deputy Chief of Staff, G-8 Senior Executive Service (retired); Flemington Mayor Sandra Martin; Glennville Mayor Jean Bridges; Celia Dunn, owner of Sotheby's International Realty in Savannah; and Sgt. Maj. Claudia Turner, U.S. Army Reserve, first command sergeant major for the newly-established Army Reserve Legal Command, as well as the first female command sergeant major for U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corps.

The final question proposed to the panel was, "What would you like to pass on to your current and future generations'"

"It is better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have that opportunity, than to have an opportunity and not be prepared for an opportunity," said Sgt. Maj. Turner.

Page last updated Thu August 19th, 2010 at 15:15