Fort Lee hosts Women's History Month observance
March 31, 2011
By Amy Perry
FORT LEE, Va. (March 31, 2011) -- Historic re-enactors, poetry readings and the observations of a Gold Star Mother were the highlights of a Women's History Month observance here Monday in the Transportation School auditorium.
Sponsored by the 244th Quartermaster Battalion, part of the 23rd QM Brigade, and the Installation Equal Opportunity Office, the event drew a respectable crowd of nearly 200 people. They listened intently as Chief Warrant Officer 5 Candis Martin, the quartermaster personnel development warrant officer in the Office of the Quartermaster General, told a story about two women who found great strength to make a difference in other's lives.
She recognized Juliette Gordon Low, who founded Girl Scouts of America, and Grace Darling Sielbold, who founded the American Gold Star Mothers group.
"Together, those two organizations have done so much for so many, all because of the strength of a woman," said Martin. "We all know a Girl Scout - most of us wore the uniform. You may or may not know a Gold Star Mother, but if you have seen the goodness happening within our veterans homes and hospitals and the support to our returning wounded warriors, you have witnessed the spirit of the American Gold Star Mother at work."
During her presentation, Martin, a Gold Star Mother herself, spoke of the last conversation she had with her son, 1st Lt. Tom Martin, on April 17, 2007, before he returned to Iraq and was killed in action.
"Tom and I were enjoying a cup of coffee over small talk in the kitchen of our San Antonio home," she said. "I was telling him all of the reasons why I hated for him to have to return to his unit; that I knew he was experiencing things that no mother ever wanted their child to go through - the experience of the threat of combat.
"After a while of back and forth banter, he left me with a comment that truly caught me off guard and speechless," she continued. "He said, 'Mom, it's what we do.'"
Martin said she was speechless because she was speaking to him as a mother, not as a fellow Soldier.
"His words continue to haunt me, particularly in the midst of our professional arms campaign," she said. "'It's what we do.' Even before Tom was killed, I found strength in four little words - strength to be all I could be, as well as strength to continue to support the warfighter."
Martin went on to encourage the audience to live their lives with more meaning.
"Throughout life, I've come to know there are two days we have absolutely no control over - the day we are born and the day we will die," she said. "What we do between those two days has become known as the dash. How we live our dash is a choice. Will you become a part of history in a good, positive way' Will you find the strength to influence others and continue to enrich this great country with your contributions'"
Following Martin's thought-provoking presentation, members of the 244th QM Bn. impersonated famous women in America's history during a skit entitled "Who am I'" Three Soldiers also read pieces of poetry written by women veterans.
The overall significance of the observance was summed up best by Martin when she focused her thoughts specifically on the purpose of Women's History Month.
"(It) reminds us that many remarkable women have gone before us in all walks of life, which allows us to serve where we serve, work where we work, and even choose a profession such as the profession of arms," she said. "As we prepare to write the next chapter of women's history, let us carry forward the strength of women who came before us and ensure our daughters have no limits on their dreams and no obstacles to their achievements. "