By Ms. Christie Vanover (IMCOM)March 29, 2010
CHIEVRES, Belgium - Women were celebrated March 26 as ChiAfA..vres Garrison honored Women's History Month under the theme, "Writing women back into history."
"I don't think we've ever been out of history. We are history," proclaimed Command Sgt. Maj. Mary Brown, who herself has marked a place in the history books as the first female parachute rigger to become a command sergeant major.
As the guest speaker of the Army Equal Opportunity program, Brown recognized women as "visionary pioneers" and "courageous trailblazers of history."
"Today, we salute all women, not only those who paved the way, but also all of those who followed the paths, for it is those who follow who may have even the tougher job," the command sergeant major for USAG Schinnen told a standing-room only crowd.
"For they must turn those paths into roads and those roads into super highways and try to form new trails," she continued.
Through comedy and interaction, Brown engaged the crowd and got the audience to shout out the name of a woman who had an impact on their lives.
The program also included a series of international reflections. Women of various nationalities and backgrounds shared the stories of successful females from around the world. From Benazir Bhutto, a Pakistani politician, to Belgium's Queen Elisabeth, the educational insight demonstrated the diversity of the SHAPE/ChiAfA..vres community.
Kelly Torres, a U.S. military spouse with German roots, shared the life of Elisabeth Selbert, a German politician and lawyer. She said as a working mother, spouse, college student and volunteer she felt she could identify with Selbert.
"I think in a military community, women are the support of our families and our Soldiers. We carry a large burden at times, and we are capable of so much at once. We all can fulfill our dreams and become who we want to become if we just push ourselves," she said.
In addition song performances, poetry readings, interpretive dance and an all female color guard from SHAPE American High School ROTC, USAG Benelux recognized women who have made extraordinary contributions to the community.
First Sgt. Sandra Myers, Master Sgt. Vetta Stanley, Air Force Master Sgt. Margaret Jullens, Pina Artale, and Carly Slater received special recognition from Laure Drago, the garrison commander's wife, and Master Sgt. Michelle Kennedy-Gonzalez, the ChiAfA..vres Garrison senior NCO.
"Now more than ever, the work of women in history needs to continue and expand," Sgt. Erika Lowe, the event narrator, told the audience at the end of the program. "Each new generation needs to draw information and inspiration from the last."