By Laura KreiderMarch 28, 2018
VICENZA, Italy -- The Vicenza Military Community celebrated Women's History Month with an event hosted by the 207th Military Intelligence Brigade on Caserma Ederle at the Golden Lion March 14.
The United States has observed Women's History Month since 1987, when the U.S. Congress designated it as such.
Each year, a theme gives a special opportunity to recognize and celebrate women whose lives exemplify that theme, which this year was: "Honoring Women Who Fight All Forms of Discrimination Against Women."
As part of the program, Maj. Michelle Martinez, executive officer, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, U.S. Army Africa, was the guest speaker for the event.
"We are here to celebrate the countless women who have challenged the status quo, made lasting reforms, and presided over their countries for decades, ushering in prosperity and cultural revolutions," she said in her opening.
According to Martinez, throughout the years, women from all over the world have achieved success despite their circumstances and reached goals against all odds.
One example Martinez cited was Marie Curie, a Polish and naturalized French physicist and chemist who lived in the late 1800s.
"We can thank her [Curie] for her contributions to current day X-ray machines. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize in physics, and the first person and only woman to win it twice in two different sciences. Mrs. Curie's road to success was one with many obstacles. She was rejected from several universities just for being a woman," Martinez added.
Martinez stressed that, even after completing school and contributing significantly to science and physics, she was still never seen as an equal to her male counterparts, simply for being a woman.
After describing other models of women fighting forms of discrimination, Martinez highlighted the crucial role that women have played in the security and success of the U.S. military from the Revolutionary War to current conflicts.
"Women serve throughout our military as commanders, pilots, security forces, submariners, drivers and gunners during battle convoy missions, medics and in so many other ways too countless to mention," she said. "They stretched the limits of their boundaries within the military by doing what they could do for their country, which was evident in World War I, when more than 400 Army nurses made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty."
Martinez mentioned other significant contributions such as 1st Lt. Reba Whittle, a flight nurse during World War II; Silver Star recipient Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester who deployed to the front lines of Iraq and Afghanistan; and Gen. Ann Dunwoody, who became the first four-star general in U.S. Army history.
Martinez explained she has seen progress during her 20-year-service career, especially in the past couple of years when both the Army and Marine Corps have opened up all combat positions, without exception, to women for the first time in history.
In closing her address, she said that when women feel like giving up their dreams because of difficulties they have to face, they should take a look at stories of successful women who helped our society become more inclusive and accepting.
"I don't know about you, but it's these examples of pioneering and ambitious women that inspire me to strive for greatness every day. Thank you to all women - past, present and future - who dedicate themselves to making this world a better place."
The Women's History observance also included a performance by the Vicenza Middle School Choir, a presentation of awards to essay contest winners, and reading of the 1st place "Patriot's Pen" essay by 8th-grader Aliuna Schorn.
Closing remarks by Col. Richard Conkle, 207th MI Bde. commander, and a cake cutting concluded the observance.