Kaiserslautern Military Community hosted the 2022 Women’s Equality Day celebration to remember the long struggle to afford women the right to vote, leading to the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920, on Sembach Kaserne, Kaiserslautern, Germany, August 26, 2022.
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. James M. Smith, commanding general, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, began the event with opening remarks and later issued the Oath of Enlistment for 16 female Soldiers displaying their devotion to the U.S. Army and their country. The Army recognizes not only the significance of women’s contributions, but also the value of diversity and inclusivity to the fighting force.
“This is a day of opportunity to recognize the women with Team 21, who have served and who have sacrificed in the defense of our nation,” said Smith.
Women make up 18% of the regular Army, the Army National Guard and Army Reserve, and 36% of the Army’s civilian workforce. Sgt. Shannon Fountain, 92nd Military Police Company, 18th Military Police Brigade, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, is one of those women and participated in the reenlistment ceremony.
“We’re being placed equal to our male counterparts,” said Fountain, a wheeled vehicle mechanic. Fountain promoted to sergeant in July 2022 and reenlisted to lead soldiers and further her career.
To sustain a high-quality Army that is trained and ready, all troops are given equal opportunities to advance and obtain goals.
Spc. Alaveene Cox Furman, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, reenlisted to progress her professional career in the Army with the goal of becoming a non-commissioned officer. Cox Furman feels the Army presents unique opportunities such as traveling and advises other young females to make the commitment. “Try something new,” said Cox Furman. “You never know, you might like it.”
Guest speaker, Michelle Bailey, Deputy Director American Red Cross Europe Division, Africa and Middle East, encouraged women to exercise their right to vote. “Women’s equality means equality for all,” said Bailey.
History and experiences are proof that the contributions and achievements of women make our Army stronger. Today, women can serve in all Army career fields.
“Everything we’ve worked for so far, is paying off,” said Sgt. Cyonna Stevens, 18th Military Police Brigade, 21st Theater Sustainment Command. Stevens recognizes the evolution of women’s rights and equality within the ranks. She feels her role as a Service member is rewarding. “It’s hard, but it’s worth it.” Stevens, a member of the military police, reenlisted in the ceremony and wants to become a drill sergeant to develop Army Soldiers.
Sachiko Furuhata, international concert pianist, began her performance with two classical pieces by Chopin and Franz Liszt. Her final number was a duet with her daughter, Sophie Kersting, who sang, “Wherever He Ain’t,” a song from the musical, “Mack and Mabel.” The mother-daughter duo was a spectacular show and demonstrates their immeasurable talent and skill.
Bailey said Women’s Equality Day recognizes the abilities of everyone. The Army, too, recognizes all its people, Soldiers, Families, and Civilians and provides individuals the opportunity to maximize their potential.