FORT STEWART -- Spring sunshine filled the air at Marne Garden this afternoon as the Marne Family gathered to mark the signing of the 3rd Infantry Division Sexual Assault Awareness month proclamation by Maj. Gen. John M. Murray, 3rd ID Commanding General and Command Sgt. Major Edd Watson, 3rd ID Command Sergeant Major.

This April, Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield observe the third annual SAAM with the theme, "Live our values: Step up to stop sexual assault."

Sgt. 1st Class Belinda Eason, the 42nd Fires Brigade sexual assault response coordinator, shared a bit of history stating that awareness began with women's organized protests against violence in the late 1970s in England with 'Take back the night' marches. Eason explained that the protest activities became more coordinated and developed into a movement that extended into the United States.

"Over time, sexual assault awareness activities expanded to include the issue of sexual violence against men and their participation in ending sexual violence," Eason stated.

The teal-colored ribbon was adopted as a symbol of sexual assault awareness and prevention, and the very first sexual assault awareness month was observed nationally in April 2001.

"Preventing sexual assault requires sustained vigilance and a steadfast team effort," stated Sgt. 1st Class Natalie Lewis, 3rd ID SARC as she reviewed the proclamation being presented.

This team effort was represented within 3ID by releasing 100 teal-colored balloons in support of victims and survivors of sexual assault. Murray and Watson extended an invitation to all to join them in the releasing of the balloons symbolically representing the team effort required to achieve the goal.