Rock Island Arsenal, Ill. -- Tara Barney, CEO and president of the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce, spoke to Soldiers, federal employees, and community members during a Women's History Month observance in Heritage Hall, here, March 21.

This year's ceremony honored trailblazing women who paved the way for future generations. The event consisted of speeches, songs dedicated to women's empowerment, and a video of Soldiers and federal employees recognizing their Women of the Month heroes.

Sgt. 1st Class Tina Roberts, equal opportunity advisor, U.S. Army Sustainment Command, said that this year's Women's History Month is special because "we all watched as heroic women in our Armed Forces made history" this past year. She referred to Pfc. Katherine Beatty becoming the first female cannon crewmember, and Brig. Gen. Diana Holland becoming the first female commandant of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy.

"This is the first time as an equal opportunity advisor that I witnessed history in the making," said Roberts.

Barney, the keynote speaker, was called "the Quad Cities' own trailblazer" during her introduction. She said that women have "knocked down the barrier of preconceived limitations" and proven that women are capable of completing any tasks. She spoke about her own experiences during her early career.

"I, like many of you, have spent my entire career in what was a formally a non-traditional role-- I am sure many of you in this room would say this about military service in the past," said Barney. "I've been in countless meetings in the earlier parts of my career where I was the only woman.

"In those early years, I found I had to find self-defense strategies, and one was following competitive sports. If I didn't come to work on Monday knowing what happened in the sports world over the weekend, my credibility was compromised."

Barney acknowledged that the Armed Forces recognizes that women should serve in every aspect in the military. She said that the nation's force is the strongest in the world now that they are drawing the strengths of all Americans.

As a community and business leader in the Quad Cities, Barney said that she will be working to support and integrate veterans into the workforce, especially women veterans.

Maj. Gen. Edward Daly, commanding general, ASC provided closing remarks.

"I would ask you and encourage you as you leave here today to continue thinking about the great contributions that women have made, not only in present but also in the past," Daly said.

Roberts, who assisted in the program planning, said that observances are important because they enhance cross-cultural awareness among all Soldiers, civilian employees, and their families. They also recognize the achievements and contributions made by members of specific racial, ethnic, or gender groups in our society, said Roberts.

"The responsibility of all leaders is to recognize and manage these differences so that they do not interfere with the Army's mission and ability to fight and win on the battlefield," Roberts said.