FORT DETRICK, Md. -- U.S. Army Medical Logistics Command leaders celebrated the contributions of influential women during an Aug. 26 ceremony for Women’s Equality Day.
The event, hosted by AMLC, serves as the installation’s annual observance marking the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution that gave women the right to vote in 1920. It also serves to celebrate the progress of women over the years, as well as advancing gender equity.
Pam Wetzel, director of the Readiness and Sustainment Directorate within AMLC’s Integrated Logistics Support Center, read aloud President Joe Biden’s proclamation recognizing the occasion, celebrating women who “fought to deliver a better future for America’s daughters.”
“We recognize the work that remains to ensure that everyone can fully participate in our democracy and make fundamental choices about their health and bodies,” she read from the proclamation. “We strive to uphold our nation’s promise of equality for all people.”
AMLC, the Army’s premier medical logistics organization and life cycle management command for medical materiel, is one of several military commands based out of Fort Detrick. Each year, different units take the lead on installation-wide observances and recognitions.
Ceremony host Col. Timothy Walsh, deputy commander of AMLC, said the Army and other branches of the armed forces have come a long way over the years, opening new career paths and opportunities for women.
However, he reminded attendees that more still needs to be done to advance equality.
“So today, while we celebrate how far we’ve come as a country and the military, we acknowledge we have much further to go,” he said.
Lt. Col. Nikki Davis, deputy commander for operations of the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency, an AMLC direct reporting unit, served as the event’s keynote speaker.
Born in North Carolina, Davis’ father served 26 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, retiring as sergeant major. Despite frequent deployments during her father’s career, Davis said her mother always “did a phenomenal job” raising her and her brothers.
“She wasn’t a single parent, but at times, she was a single parent,” Davis said. “I come from a family of strong, hardworking, independent females.”
Reflecting on the impacts of her mother and grandmother, Davis said they may not have had any postsecondary education, but they were the “smartest ladies I ever met.”
“They have taught me so many valuable life lessons and values that represent the core of what I am,” she said.
During her remarks, Wetzel also highlighted the efforts of several trail-blazing women, including Marguerite Higgins, an American reporter and war correspondent who became the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize in 1951 for her coverage of the Korean War, and Dolores Huerta, one of the most influential Hispanic activists of the 20th Century and advocate for women’s and farmworker’s rights.
“And have you heard of Jackie Mitchell?” Wetzel said. “She was one of the first female pitchers in professional baseball history.”
Mitchell was just 17 when she pitched for the Chattanooga Lookouts, a minor-league club that played an exhibition game against the New York Yankees in 1931. In that game, Mitchell managed to strike out Hall of Fame sluggers Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in consecutive at-bats, Wetzel said.
“Just like that, history was made,” she said. “Women’s Equality Day reminds us to celebrate the women who came before us and honor them by believing in ourselves and encouraging others to do the same.”