Observance traces women's roles throughout history
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"Families … on behalf of the 1st Infantry (Division) Sustainment Brigade, welcome to 2019 Women's History Month observance," said Staff Sgt. Cherie Johnson, 1st Inf. Div. Sust. Bde., to people at Barlow Theater March 20.

The observance celebrated women and their accomplishments throughout history with a theme that read "Visionary Women: Champions of Peace and Nonviolence."

Senior Chaplain (Col.) Shmuel Felzenberg expressed during the invocation how women were champions of peace and nonviolence as early as biblical times as he recounted the story of Esther. He told how she had foiled a plot and saved an "entire nation of people slated for destruction."

"Without her actions long ago, I myself would not be here today," he said. "And throughout history, we acknowledge the amazing impact of women upon the world in which we live. The true majesty of women and their inextricable role in society's evolution cannot be overemphasized or even adequately articulated."

Johnson said the annual observance began in California in 1978. In 1980, the first presidential proclamation declared the week of March 8 as National Women's History week.

The following year, she said, U.S. Congress expanded the week to a month at the beseeching of the National Women's History Project. However, it did not stop there.

"In 2017, the Women, Peace and Security Act was signed into law," she said. "The act strengthened continued efforts to prevent, or mitigate, and resolve conflict by increasing women's participation in negotiation and mediation processes to advance stability."

The 1st Inf. Div. Sust. Bde., celebrated these advancements with a poem written by Maya Angelou, "Phenomenal Woman" recited by Sgt. 1st Class Dejaris Washington-Richard, Headquarters Support Company, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 1st Inf. Div., and a small concert performed by the 1st Infantry Division Jazz band led by Sergeant 1st Class Jennifer Champagne. The songs chosen were from female artists like P!nk and Katy Perry.

"Personally, I am grateful for all the hard work for women who have paved the way for women in the military, women in the entertainment industry," Champagne said. "If it wasn't for all of them, I would not be here today doing exactly what I love."

Carmaletta Williams, executive director of The Black Archives of Mid-America, Kansas City, Missouri, also spoke.

"Champions, that is the key word," she said. "These are the people who are victorious."

Williams spoke of several women including Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou and Diane Nash.

Champagne said this helped to keep fresh in her mind the changes that are being made all the time by men and women.

"I think it's really important because it reminds us of all the things that have been done, maybe it was small things maybe it was big things, but that everyone can make a difference," she said. "Even though we are celebrating history, we all are part of history in the making."