By Staff Sgt. Crista Yazzie, USARPAC Public AffairsApril 1, 2009
FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii - (March 31, 2009) The Oahu Army community observed Women's History Month, here, with the theme, "Women taking the lead to save our planet."
This year's observance, sponsored by the 311th Signal Command and Team Equal Opportunity, Hawaii, celebrated the accomplishments of women, past and present, and focused on work to improve or sustain the environment.
Cindy Barger, biologist and project manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Honolulu District, and Leilani Munter, NASCAR driver and environmentalist, were guest speakers.
"What a great time to acknowledge Women's History Month, as we pay tribute to the lives of countless sacrifices and many endeavors embarked upon, torn down historic prejudices to where we have moved forward to really change the way we do business, both in the United States and in the Army," said Brig. Gen. Alan Lynn, commanding general of the 311th TSC.
Sgt. 1st Class Janice Wilson, 45th Sustainment Brigade, sang the national anthem, to beginning of the observance. The invocation and benediction were dedicated by Chaplain (Maj.) Linda Norlien, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade.
"The Army is a values-based organization and our high value on education and training gives us the opportunity to meaningfully impact young Americans, to serve in the Army but go back into society with a higher respect for the contribution of women," said Norlien.
U.S. Army, Pacific Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph P. Zettlemoyer, who attended the event with his wife Tina, also remarked on the importance of the observance.
"There are thousands of women that have contributed to the success of our Army; there are thousands of female Soldiers serving today in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan doing an outstanding job every day, and I appreciate the fact that the service to which I am a member of recognizes that contribution," he said.
Barger discussed the progress of women in the scientific community, particularly engineering. She then showcased several of the current USACE projects of the Honolulu District, focusing on restoration projects, protecting the coral reefs, watershed planning and low impact development individual projects.
"Everyone has to change their habits, not just the public departments," she said. "Low impact development is an example of something in which everyone can get involved."
Barger offered a number of ways that individuals can help their environment, particularly an April 11 event, entitled "Mauka to Makai" at the Honolulu Aquarium offering activities for children, as well as various clean-up activities divided into neighborhoods for the month of April featured on the City and County of Honolulu website, http://www.honolulu.gov/main/government.
Key speaker, Munter, Ambassador for the National Wildlife Federation, may be better known to the world as the fourth woman in history to race in the Indy Pro Series, the developmental league of Indy Racing League. Munter spoke of the struggles she endured entering into a male-dominated sport, while championing environmental causes.
"It's safe to say that it was difficult for some old-school NASCAR boys to accept a vegetarian female driver as their competitor, but it was about to get a lot worse," she said. "In 2006, I added a section to my website dedicated to environmental news, and in 2007, I announced my commitment to adopt and protect an acre of rainforest to offset my carbon footprint."
Munter described very strong reactions both for and against her causes, but emphasized how she stood up for what she believed in, and due to this persistence, she is now recognized for her efforts towards recycling and clean renewable resources.
"In the last year, I have made four trips to Capitol Hill to speak to members of Congress about environmental issues," said Munter. "I want them to know that a race car driver, someone whose career is based around an internal combustion engine, can see the importance of energy independence and the towards clean renewable energy from the sun and the wind and the ocean."
Lynn thanked the speakers for their appearances at the end of the observance and gave both a gift as a token of appreciation from the 311th SC.
"So many great leaders have come before, and here are two great leaders who have done so much for their field," said Lynn. "We have plenty of senior women that are great mentors too, such as Gen. Anne Dunwoody, Maj. Gen. Susan Lawrence and my predecessor, Maj. Gen. Donna Dacier, for example, also is a great leader. I see some leaders in the room that are growing and becoming those mentors, too."
Although the 311th SC,U.S. Army, Pacific and 9th Mission Support Command provided financial support, the 500th Military Intelligence Bde. provided computer support, the narrator, Sgt. 1st Class Erika Gordon, was provided by the 130th Engineer Battalion, and the 25th CAB provided drivers for the guest speakers.
"The 311th was tasked for the event and led the way, but equal opportunity advisors from throughout the island were key contributors," said Master Sgt. Ricardo Natera, 311th TSC equal opportunity advisor.
Other contributors included the 8th Theater Sustainment Command, U.S. Army Garrison, Hawaii, 45th Sustainment Bde., 94th Army Air Missile Defense Command and the 516th Signal Bde.
All attending the event were given reusable shopping bags provided by Team Equal Opportunity Hawaii. For more information about Women's History Month, visit http://www.womenshistorymonth.gov.