The lives and contributions of women throughout history were celebrated as the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood sponsored a Women's History Month Observance March 19 at Nutter Field House.

The 4th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade hosted this year's observance, themed "Weaving the Stories of Women's Lives."

Soldiers from the brigade kicked off the event by reading the Women's History Month presidential proclamation and female Soldiers provided a presentation about several female figures throughout history.

The day's guest speaker was Command Sgt. Maj. Cynthia Howard, U.S. Army Transportation Corps regimental command sergeant major. Lt. Col. Chad Goyette, on behalf of Col. Antonio Munera, 4th MEB commander, introduced Howard as a trailblazer for women and a face familiar to many on Fort Leonard Wood.

A 4th MEB Soldier takes part in presenting profiles of historic female figures during the Women's History Month Observance March 19.

"We are lucky to welcome back someone who is quite familiar with Fort Leonard Wood from all of her time spent at the 58th Transportation Battalion shaping the lives of young U.S. Army Soldiers," Goyette said. "Her (biography) is dotted with jobs like senior drill sergeant, truck master, first sergeant, sergeant major, command sergeant major and now regimental command sergeant major. Selection in each of these positions was in their own right an identification of her potential to lead," he said.

Howard said she was excited to be able to return to Fort Leonard Wood to honor the contributions and strides women have made through the years.

"When I think about this year's theme, "Weaving the Stories of Women's Lives," I think about the lives and contributions of countless women who have made great sacrifices, embarked upon meaningful endeavors and have torn down historic barriers," Howard said.

She said her goal for the day was to leave the audience with two takeaways -- "how women are continuing to break barriers and that success, great success, is within reach of every single one of you in this room."

Howard said her life was built upon those who have come before her.

"As a mother, a woman, a sister, an aunt and most of all a senior noncommissioned officer and leader of Soldiers, I truly admire those women who have laid that foundation of who I am today -- my mother, my drill sergeant, my very first squad leader and a former retired command sergeant major," Howard said.

Howard shared highlights of her life and of those who mentored her.

She said her mother always told her she could succeed at whatever she put her mind to, and after high school, her mother gave her two choices -- go to college or join the armed forces.

Howard started college, but after a year, because of finances, she decided to join the Army.

She said her drill sergeant; her first squad leader and a retired command sergeant major showed her how to be a great leader and to work hard.

Howard said her command sergeant major was a Soldier who saw men and women not by gender, but just as Soldiers.

"He inspired me to always do my job, to the best of my ability, and one day be in his position if I continued to work hard," she said.

"For many of you in the audience, I know you have your own personal story of women who have encouraged you in your life and career. I believe that we all have the shared responsibility to maintain that cycle and do our part in the development of the next generation," she said.

Howard said over time, the roles for women have changed and continue to evolve today.

"The United States Army continues to open positions for women. Today women stand tall in their formations as Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen," she said.

"As we celebrate Women's History Month, let us take time to rededicate ourselves to closing the gaps that remain and continue to widen doors of opportunity for all our mothers, daughters, nieces, sisters and aunts."

One more Women's History Month event is scheduled for Fort Leonard Wood. There will be a Women's History Month Book Reading at 4 p.m. today at the Bruce C. Clarke Library.

For more information, call 573.855.6197.