Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., - 'Thunderbolt' Brigade leaders of America's I Corps hosted a Women's Equality Day Celebration at the Carey Theater Aug. 26 in honor of 99 years of women's right to vote. The event was made especially meaningful by guest speakers Victoria Woodards, Tacoma Mayor, and Kim Wyman, Washington's 15th Secretary of State.

"I got to spend the last 25 years defending the rights of all people, to vote," said Wyman. "We have an election in November, and this is going to be picking community leaders, like the mayor; people that actually affect your daily life, school board directors, fire commissioners; who make a difference in your communities. You all are part of very important communities and I encourage you to be engaged and vote in those elections."

Celebrating Women's Equality Day is an opportunity to reflect on women's accomplishments and to honor women for their leadership in service to their families, communities and the Nation.

"So often we talk about women's policies and issues like they only impact some of our residents, but women are the core of our families and at the heart of our institutions," said Woodards. "They are care providers, career professionals and community leaders."

Cameos of women's rights pioneers Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Pauline Adams and Lucy Stone were read by 17th Field Artillery Brigade women, including Sgt. Sierra Douglas, a multiple launch systems crew member.

"Events like these shine a light and empower women in the military and career professionals, showing who paved the way; it's informative and inspiring," said Douglas.

The theme was celebrating the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution which prohibited state and federal governments from denying voting rights based on gender.

"Granting women the right to vote was a key part of giving women an equal place in civic life," said Woodards. "In making the stand for women, we strengthen the fabric of our entire community,"

Woodards served in the military at JBLM after High School, and said she saw it as a great opportunity to serve this country and see the world.

"My experiences in the Army, which is thought of as a traditionally male dominated career path, prepared me to be a strong and effective government leader in America today,' said Woodards.

Woodards was inspired by the leadership she had while serving, she said.

"I challenge all military men in leadership to be a leader who lifts the women in your unit," said Woodards. "Give them opportunities to shine."

Some leaders were already committed to Mayor Woodard's challenge. In hosting Women's Equality Day, the command team of the 17th Field Artillery Brigade, Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Carlan and Col. Brandon Anderson have highlighted the struggle women faced to gain a vote.

"Events like this bring to light how the Army is much more than just a job," said Carlan. "Devoting time to recognize civic leaders of the past with leaders today shows Soldiers that what they are doing in the service has a larger impact on our society. While many businesses recognize events like these, our profession really drives home the commitment to our people and continues to educate our force."