ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- U.S. Army Sustainment Command's Equal Opportunity Office held an observance honoring Women's Equality Day for Rock Island Arsenal, here, Aug. 26.
This year's theme was "Celebrating Women's Right to Vote."
On Aug. 26, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, declaring for the first time that all American women had the right to vote. The date has since been commemorated as Women's Equality Day, identifying the day women were recognized with the same rights and responsibilities of citizenship as men.
The event began with the national anthem, sung by Jereen Phillips-Hardin, G-1 (administration), ASC. After the invocation, led by Carmen Ausborn, equal opportunity specialist, U.S. Army Garrison-RIA, a slide presentation naming successful women in sports, television and the military was shown.
Paula Sands, lead anchor, KWQC-TV6 News, was the guest speaker. Sgt. 1st Class Marion Wilson, who puts these observances together as ASC's Equal Opportunity Advisor, had pursued Sands for several weeks leading up to the event.
"Sergeant Wilson came to the station out of the blue to invite me to come here today," said Sands. "My first question for him was 'What was this again? What are you guys doing?' And then I wanted to be a part of it. He just thought in all the years I've invested in the area through my job that I had something to share."
Sands, a native of Moline, Illinois, began her career writing and voicing radio commercials at WQUA-AM. In 1982, she became the country's youngest co-host of the syndicated program, PM Magazine on WOC-TV6. KWQC-TV6 introduced the locally produced "Paula Sands Live" in 1993. In addition to hosting "Paula Sands Live," Sands co-anchors the 6 p.m. news.
"I love this program that you do here, and it should be supported so it's definitely an honor and a privilege for me to be here today," she said.
Maj. Gen. Kevin O'Connell, commanding general, ASC, spoke briefly to the audience, reinforcing the importance of these equal opportunity events and how the Army leads the way.
"It's all about equal opportunity with regard to race, color, ethnic origin, religion, sex, disability -- all the different equal opportunity categories," he said. "In 95 years we've come a long way, and the Army leads in equal opportunity. We are way ahead of the rest of America, and kind of shape the way America follows."
After O'Connell's comments, he and Sands cut a women's equality cake with a military saber. O'Connell said he was impressed with Sand's ability to make such a perfectly centered cut, and joked that he should invite her to all of ASC's cake cuttings.
Sands stayed for a short time after the observance to shake hands with the people who have watched her career throughout the last 33 years, and offered her message to women everywhere.
"Be positive. Be kind. Serve others," she said. "Think less of yourself, not to put yourself down or anything, but take yourself out of yourself and give to others. I think it's our greatest strength as women and I think we should never be discouraged in continuing that."