FORT HUACHUCA, Arizona - The U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command hosted Women's History Observance at the NETCOM Headquarters in Greely Hall March, 8 2019.
Hosting this year's event were Maj. Gen Maria B. Barrett, NETCOM Commanding General and Command Sgt. Maj. Jennifer Taylor, NETCOM Command Sergeant Major. In addition, NETCOM invited the city of Sierra Vista Mayor Prom-Tem Rachel Gray as their honoree guest speaker.
"The 2019 Women's History theme is "Visionary Women: Champions of Peace & Nonviolence," said Master Sgt. Cary Brown, NETCOM Equal Opportunity Representative.
"This year we honor women who have led efforts to end war, violence, and injustice and pioneered the use of nonviolence to change society," said Brown.
According to Maj. Gen Barrett, women are part of every facet military and civilian life as they have contributed much to the nation's history.
In her opening remarks Barrett said, "Today, the majority of the private sector and government value and seek women in their ranks for the qualities they bring to their team: they are visionary in their own unique ways and champions of non-violence and peace. They are the stewards of American society and family."
"They are a symbol of endurance, caring, hope, livelihood and perseverance through the ages. Look around to the left and to the right at all of the women sitting before us both in uniform and in civilian attire. In this room today, we have mothers, daughters, wives, combat veterans, Soldiers, civilian professionals and community volunteers," said Barrett
Barrett also reminded everyone that women's struggles and their accomplishments did not happen overnight.
"The achievements of women did not just happen overnight, nor are they retained without constant nurturing--hence our being here today," said Barrett.
"We are not products of a shake-n-bake evolution but we are the legacy bearers of those brave and un-daunting women who came before us and set the stage for women's suffrage, the right to vote and the right to serve in uniform."
Since the beginning of American history women have fought for equal rights and Barrett made this very clear as she quoted a former first-lady, Abigail Adams, in a letter written to her husband on 31 March, 1776.
"I long to hear that you have declared an independency. And, by the way, in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors," said Barrett.
It would take almost 150 years after Abigail Adams wrote her letter for the House of Representatives to pass and ratify the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote in 1920, Barrett added.
The journey which women have undergone during American history is perhaps best told by NETCOM's guest speaker Mayor Prom-Tem Rachel Gray who has served the city as a council member, a teacher, a volunteer, and in various other capacities. During her remarks Gray addressed women from a holistically and exemplary point-of-you as well as a much personified sequence of fortunate events from her life as she recalled some of her trials and tribulations as a woman, mother, wife and community leader.
"In my life, I've had the honor of being able to follow in the footsteps of some truly great people. From mentors in other cities that have shown me what is possible in Sierra Vista, mentors in Sierra Vista who have shown me how to lead with courage and compassion, to friends and family who have risen from deepest and darkest sometimes unimaginable events and been victorious," said Gray.
Gray attributes much of her success to inspirational and successful women like Shelby Lynne, Rosa Parks and Dolly Parton.
"Shelby Lynn, American recording artist, won a Grammy for Best New Artist but it took her 13 years to achieve that," said Gray.
Despite recording as early as 1988, Lynn never gave up and followed her dreams stated Gray.
"Rosa Parks, a story we are familiar with, had the tenacity to insist she had every right to sit anywhere on the bus that she wanted. She believed that all people were created equal, and fought for many years to spread that message."
"Dolly Parton, greatest songwriter of all time, says "If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, and become more, then, you are an excellent leader," restated Gray.
Gray hopes to continue serving both community and humanity via the examples of prototypical women that have brought a lifetime of motivation, inspiration and an understanding that we all can be visionaries and influence our surroundings and the whole world in a positive way.
"At the end of my life, and hope it's a really long way away, I hope to look back and know that I will be leaving behind a legacy that someone can draw from to achieve their greatness," said Gray.
"Just like the women we are celebrating this month, my hope is to have a life knowing I gave it everything I had to make my world better," said Gray.
"Will we all be remembered in the history books? No we won't but that's ok."
Gray then followed with a closing quote from Mother Teresa. "I alone cannot change the world but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples."
Members in the audience found it easy to connect with Mayor Gray's remarks.
"Celebrating Women's History Month recognizes the hard work, persistence, and patience of every woman that has ever wanted change. It reminds me to not take the life and opportunities that I have been given for granted and recognize that I have a responsibility to pave the way for our future generations," said Sgt. 1st Class Jessica Stafford-Moore, NETCOM SGS NCOIC.
Maj. Gen Barrett then reiterated the importance of remembering how recent women's rights to serve in combat are to those serving in uniform.
"Although women's history observances have been celebrated for the past few decades, the full integration of women in the armed forces may well have only happened yesterday. Most of us recall when Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced on 3 December, 2015 that beginning in January 2016, all military occupations and positions will be open to women, without exception," said Barrett.
Barrett then recalled a personal encounter she had with a young female cadet. She referred to a story in which she met a young female cadet who told her "she wanted to be an Armor Army officer, shortly after the military opened all DOD positions for women in early 2016." This left a very deep impression on Barrett for she met one of the first women to benefit from the full integration of women into the armed forces.
Hence, Barrett ended the closing remarks with a positive outlook for women.
"I see the future as very positive, I love our leadership that they recognize that. I think this bodes well for us, everybody in this room today," she said.