By Ms. Laurel Stone (Daegu)March 25, 2018
USAG DAEGU, South Korea -- "From the first settlers who came to our shores, from the first American Indian families who befriended them, men and women have worked together to build this nation. Too often the women were unsung and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength and love of the women who built America was as vital as that of the men whose names we know so well." These are the words of President Jimmy Carter declaring March 2-8 Women's History Week in 1980.
The dates for WHW changed annually and a new lobbying effort would arise to push Congress toward declaring March National Women's History Month. In 1987 after being petitioned by the National Women's History Project, Congress passed Pub. L. 100-9 which designated the month of March 1987 "Women's History Month." Between 1988 and 1994, Congress passed additional resolutions requesting and authorizing the President to proclaim March of each year Women's History Month.
Each year we honor women and their contributions with a special theme. The theme for 2018 is "Nevertheless She Persisted: Honoring Women Who Fight All Forms of Discrimination." It is a time to reflect on WHM and what it means to us as a nation, as well as listen to the thoughts and comments of women here in our own community. Each has contributed to history in some way and in some role; Soldier, mother, employee, and each brings diversity and solidarity to the strength of women. Here are a few examples of what women in USAG Daegu had to say about women they admire and their hopes for the future.
Karin Goforth, Resource Management Officer for USAG Daegu -- reflecting on women's progression in the workplace.
"Women have historically been paid less and I think we've made great strides in getting to, not yet equality, but closer to it. For the future, I hope women keep working toward getting to that point. Author Sharon Sanford makes a point that it's partly our own fault because when we go in to negotiate salary, women ask for less," says Goforth. "I'm hoping as time progresses, we get that confidence to ask for the same pay for the same work."
Of Asian descent, Meejeom Green, Lodging Manager for Family & Morale, Welfare and Recreation, USAG Daegu, is the perfect example of how women have progressed over the years. Green grew up in post-war Korea before becoming a US citizen. She married, had children, and successfully managed hotels in Manhattan, New York and York, Pennsylvania for decades before returning to Korea. Green shared her comments on the strength of women in all aspects of life.
"When people look at a cherry tree, they never stop to say 'What beautiful roots this tree has'. They only see the beautiful, pink blossoms the tree has produced. Women are like the roots of that tree. They're strong and solid, they nurture and grow their families and relationships, and support the people around them. The stronger the roots, the more beautiful and plentiful the fruits and flowers will be. The roles women take on and how they manage those roles have a profound effect on everyone around them, though they often go unrecognized."
Lending her voice to the discussion, Teresa Kaltenbacher, Public Affairs Officer for USAG Daegu commented, "I have a lot of female role models. For example, Rosie the Riveter and what she stood for during World War II, when females stepped up to the plate to replace the men who were overseas fighting the war. This paved the way for future women to enter the workforce. But there were other women many never heard about called the Top Secret Rosies. These ladies were the brains who worked behind the scenes in the STEM fields. I'm thinking specifically of a group who calculated ballistic missile firing tables to ensure that missiles and bullets hit their intended target, helping us to win the war. Officials recruited the top female mathematicians from high schools around the country and they worked on these secret projects, hidden from view. These "female computers" were also the first programmers of the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer or ENIAC; the world's first electronic digital computer." Kaltenbacher developed a women's STEM memorial garden dedicated to the Top Secret Rosies while working at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland and was fortunate to have Wink Jonas, one of the original Rosies, as her guest speaker during the unveiling ceremony. Kaltenbacher added, "We're taking the issue of women's equality to the next level. Women are embracing our own challenges and as a community, we are banding together to continue to bring it to the forefront and consciousness of the general public."
As women's voices grow and unite, there is a hope that more people will take women's issues seriously and believe that lasting change is not only possible, but inevitable.
"I'd like for women to let go of social norms and constraints and seek true potential, whatever that may be," says USAG Daegu HHC commander, Capt. Jheaniell Moncrieffe. "Women today have saturated every aspect of being and will continue to do so. Women have the will and confidence to succeed in areas that were once taboo."