Luncheon salutes women's military service
April 1, 2011
By Tina Miles
- The luncehon's theme was, "Here and now, then and there."
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. - "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
That quote, once shared by author Maya Angelou, was recited by Col. Andrea L. Thompson, commander, 902nd Military Intelligence Group, as the guest speaker at the Women's Appreciation Luncheon on March 22 at Club Meade.
The appreciation luncheon, held to honor women, was hosted by the Baltimore Recruiting Battalion and the 1st Medical Recruiting Battalion. The theme was, "Here and now, then and there."
During the event, Thompson spoke of the many women warriors, past and present, as well as those yet to serve, citing quotes from Gen. Ann Dunwoody, the first female officer to attain the rank of four-star general.
"I never considered myself anything but a Soldier," Thompson said, quoting Dunwoody. "I recognize that with this selection, some will view me as a trailblazer. But it's important that we remember the generations of women, whose dedication, commitment and quality of service helped open the doors of opportunity for us today.
"Women in the ranks, across our civilian and military sectors are paving the way for those women warriors yet to come," said Thompson, challenging and encouraging women in the audience to do the same.
The event also featured a portrayal of Annie Dodge Wauneka by Staff Sgt. Jessica Begay, a recruiter for the Baltimore Recruiting Battalion, Fredericksburg, Va., Recruiting Station.
Wauneka was one of the highly respected and influential members of the Navajo tribe from the 1950s to the 1980s. The daughter of Henry Chee Dodge, the last chief of the Navajos, she also advocated improvements in education and the general health of the Navajo. Wauneka has been honored with many awards including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963.
Sgt. 1st Class Melody Ware, of the Baltimore Recruiting Battalion at the Annapolis Recruiting Station, contributed to the honoring of women with music and her portrayal of Cathay Williams, who enlisted in the Army at age 22 in 1866, under the name of William Cathey.
While she was not the only woman to become a Soldier disguised as a man, the new recruit was officially declared "fit for duty" by an Army surgeon (who examined her superficially or not at all). This resulted in her making history as the only documented female Buffalo Soldier and the only documented African American woman to serve in the U.S. Army prior to the 1948 law, which officially allowed women to join the Army.
Other participants of the program were an all-female color guard from the Meade High School Junior ROTC and a contemporary dance routine performed by Hannah Lafrance, a senior at Arundel High School in Gambrills.
"It was worth coming to and honoring women," retired Command Sgt. Maj. Raymond J. Moran said. "I always remind Americans that women have always been volunteers, proud to serve in many ways and help America become a better nation."
Tina Miles is the public affairs officer for the 902nd Military Intelligence Group at Fort Meade