Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.- The 17th Field Artillery Brigade hosted, America's First Corps' Women's History Month observance, March 20 at French Theater. The event honored trailblazing women in the military who paved the way for future generations.
"For too long women were formally excluded from full participation in our society and our democracy," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Hutchinson, the master of ceremonies. "Because of the courage of so many bold women who dared to transcend preconceived expectations and prove that they are capable of doing all that a man could do and more, advances were made, discoveries were revealed, barriers were broken, and progress triumphed."
Chaplain (Col.) Yvonne C. Hudson was one of the two guest speakers at the event and a trailblazer herself. Hudson is the first female command chaplain of I Corps and the most senior female chaplain in the Army, but it wasn't an easy road for her.
"As a female chaplain, I am in a double male profession," said Hudson. "On average the Army only has 40 female chaplains at any one time and four to five thousand male chaplains. It is particularly difficult for women to become ministers because many churches still believe that we should not preach or teach, be ordained, or endorsed."
Hudson also talked about the difficulties of dealing with the cruelty of some male seminary students, and dealing with churches not wanting to endorse or host her as a minister. Yet she persisted in her calling, and joined the Army to make sure that she could preach God's word.
"Whether you are male or female, the Army tells us that we can face adversity with personal courage," said Hudson. "It may be a long, slow process of moving forward, but if our actions, even if they are not popular, are correct and right then we can be successful."
Command Sgt. Maj. Phelicea Redd, the command sgt. maj. of 308th Brigade Support Battalion, 17th Field Artillery Brigade was the second guest speaker.
"We have trailblazers among us," said Redd. "In the 17th Field Artillery Brigade and the Division Artillery, we have female 13Bs (cannon crewmember) and 13Ms (multiple launch rocket system crewmember), so we have witnessed firsthand the integration of females into the field artillery."
Redd went on to speak about not setting a goal to be the first but to focus on excelling at everything. When they reach the top to turn around and teach others to follow the path. Yet, while heading to the top, expect adversity and challenges. Not all will excel, some will break and depending on how one reacts, will depend on how far they will go.
"This event is about those of you here in the audience that will shape the military," said Redd. "As a steward of this profession, it is about inspiring others, so that one day you can take my place."
Even though this was a celebration of the women who broke through the glass ceilings, the final message is about one of the core Army values: personal courage.
"So I just want you to know," said Hudson. "If you don't hear anything from me today, you can do it! Whatever you want to do, you can make it happen."