By Sgt. Elayseah Woodard-HintonAugust 27, 2010
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD- Suffrage, equality in the workplace and women in the service, were just a few of the themes celebrated during the I Corps and Joint Base Lewis-McChord Women's Equality Day Observance held at the McChord Co-located Club, Aug., 26.
The 17th Fires Brigade hosted the event that commemorated women and men of the past and present who have paved the way, and continue to pave the way, for women's equality.
The guest speaker for the event, Lt. Col. Quindola Crowley, U.S. Army Reserves, pointed out that it has been 90 years since women were granted the right to vote. Crowley also gave an in depth look into the history and hurdles that have been overcome throughout the country to gain equality for women.
To bring her point closer to home, Crowley went on to provide statistics and accounts of where women have made contributions to the U.S. military. She spoke of women who have served in combat zones, such as Spc. Monica Lin Brown, the first woman in Afghanistan and the second woman since WWII to receive the Silver Star for her actions in providing aid to fellow Soldiers after a roadside attack by insurgents. "Women are an invaluable part of the Army," Crowley said. "Women today serve in greater numbers than ever before. Women serve in 93 percent of all Army occupations."
Events such as Women's Equality Day, and other observances that celebrate diversity, have in some ways become a military tradition. These events are held on military installations worldwide so that service members, and those in the communities in which they serve, come away with a better understanding of the sacrifices people have made to attain rights that have not always been equally distributed to everyone; sacrifices that have in many ways coined phrases such as "Freedom isn't Free."
"Lots of people forget how far we have come," said Army 2nd Lt. Ruby Wiley, the officer in charge of the event, 17th Fires Brigade. "I think it's good to keep people [aware of] everything women have gone through."
Although there is much to be said for the rights that have been gained for women, there was still a focus on making milestones that have never been set before or are often few and far between.
"We have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go," said Army 1st Sgt. Valanteen K. Skilang, A Company, 308th Brigade Support Battalion, 17th Fires Brigade. "I would love to see the first woman president and to see more women leaders on the [battle] field."