By Keith Desbois, Combined Arms Support Command Public Affairs OfficeMay 20, 2014
FORT LEE, Va. - About 400 military members attended an advance screening of the documentary "Unsung Heroes - The Story of America's Female Patriots" at the Lee Theater on May 9. The film has been two years in the making and will air nationwide this summer.
The production focuses on the accomplishments and advancements women from all branches of service have made throughout American history. It is produced by Academy Award winner Ron Howard and written and directed by Emmy winner Frank Martin.
Those who attended the special showing - hosted by the U.S. Army Women's Museum - had many positive things to say about its overall message. "I think this film spreads so much awareness about what women (have done) that people don't know about," said Airman 1st Class Sarah Adams from the 345th Training Squadron at Fort Lee. "This film definitely makes me want to learn more about their achievements."
Long before the defense department removed restrictions on the jobs women service members could perform, they were on the front lines of every battle the United States had ever fought. Francoise Bonnell, museum director, provided a historic overview and references that are used as the backdrop for the production. She shared stories and personal accounts of female service members from the Revolutionary War to the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"The film is wonderful because it uses primary archival sources, the majority of which have never been published, and firsthand accounts to tell the history." Bonnell said. "I realize now, having seen the film, that Martin already had a sense of how he was going to weave all of the sources together."
Also featured in the documentary, and in attendance, was Sgt. 1st Class Guadalupe Alexander who is assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Combined Arms Support Command. The El Paso, Texas, native recounted personal stories of what life was like being deployed in a combat environment during tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Alexander was attached to an infantry unit in Iraq and provided automated logistics support in both theaters.
"Being featured in the Unsung Heroes documentary was such a great experience, as I was able to talk about my adventures of being a Soldier," Alexander said. "It is something that I will cherish and be forever grateful for."
Attending the screening with Alexander was her 17 year-old daughter Kaayaliah. She experienced first-hand what it was like to have a loved one in harm's way.
"I found out my mother was on the front line after her second deployment to Iraq. It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to deal with in my life," Kaayaliah said. "I remember all through middle school and part of high school a lot of people would say, 'oh, women can't be on the front lines' or 'women aren't on the front line.' I would be almost crying explaining to people that women are on the front line and my mother is one of those many women."
She also added that her mother is the strongest women she knows and is very proud of her accomplishments.
"My words can never explain the amount of joy and how proud I am to be the daughter of a female Soldier," she said.
After the screening, service members participated in a question and answer session with those directly involved in creating the film. A panel was composed of Martin, Alexander and Krewasky Salter, senior historian working with the production. According to those involved in bringing the project to life, it was an important story that needed to be told.
"These types of films exist to raise awareness and spark a conversation," Martin said. "Each time there is a conversation, more information is exchanged."
Stories such as those of Alexander and other female warriors fill the two-hour documentary special. It will air on the Public Broadcasting Service the last week of May. Check your local PBS television station listing for program times.