NATICK, Mass. (March 22, 2016) -- The Natick Soldier Systems Center celebrated Women's History Month at a ceremony held March 16 in Hunter Auditorium.
The celebration was hosted by Col. Thomas G. Eccles III, the commander of the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, and the Federal Women's Program Committee.
The theme for this year's national observance is "Working to Form a More Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Service and Government." The theme honors the trailblazing women who have shaped America's history and future through their public service and government leadership.
Lt. Col. Charlette Woodard, the Fort Devens (Massachusetts) garrison commander, served as guest speaker for the event.
"From the early years, women have stepped forward to serve alongside men for the cause of freedom," Woodard said. "Women were certainly ready to meet the needs of our nation. However, the opportunities to do so were not as prominent as they are today.
"Women continue to break barriers. Remember this statement: Women were fully integrated into all of the combat branches of the Army. Later this year, the Army, along with other services, will open 35 Military Occupation Specialties jobs to women that were previously excluded from service. This is an epic shift and one that the Army has taken a deliberate approach in managing, thanks to the great work of the physical demands study, spearheaded by USARIEM."
Christine Tinsley, a 30-year U.S. Coast Guard veteran and a master of fine arts candidate at the Tufts University School of Fine Arts, also said a few words about her display, "SisterVet," which was held in the Carney Hall lobby. The SisterVet media and storytelling project honors women veterans and their stories of service.
"It is important for us [veterans], as women, to share our stories because, when most people hear the word 'veteran,' they don't think about the women in this room," Tinsley said. "They don't think about me. I am hoping, through SisterVet, that by getting women veterans to share their stories with me, I can change that."
The daily honor of lowering the flag in Natick became even more memorable March 16 with an all-female flag detail commemorating Natick's observance of Women's History Month. According to Sgt. Sherrie Jansky, the non-commissioned officer-in-charge of the all-female flag detail, this tradition has continued in Natick for the past few years.
"The importance of the all-women flag honors, to me, is that it signifies the leaps and bounds the women have made throughout the military," Jansky said. "By participating in this honor, I feel that we pay respect to the women who have broken down the barriers in the past and also encourage women to continue to break down barriers in the future, so that women may continue to serve our country without limitations due to gender."
"We must carry on the work of the women who come before us and assure our daughters have no limits to their dreams and no obstacles to their achievements as they continue to serve as the strength of the Army and the strength of our nation," Woodard said.