By Spc. Charlene Apatang MendiolaMarch 26, 2011
From prehistoric gatherers to middle-aged domesticators, women in the past have made it possible for the trend of females in a support role to steer in a different direction. A direction which leads women of the 21st century to succeed significantly in today's society.
March is National Women's History Month, a time set aside to honor the women who have impacted our lives one way or another.
'Our History is our Strength,' is this year's theme. As this celebration is observed nation-wide, service members on Victory Base Complex lead a different approach on March 24, by commemorating women in the military.
The United States Forces - Iraq equal opportunity team hosted this celebration. "We wanted to recognize all the women who have contributed greatly to our successes in the military or in general," said Master Sgt. Ronnie Blount, an equal opportunity senior advisor with the USF-I EO office.
A team of volunteers worked together with the EO office to ensure the success of this event.
"The team wanted to make this celebration different," Blount said. "Take it away from the traditional observance, to a more distinct occasion by incorporating a variety of activities."
The activities included an array of photo displays of women warriors of different ethnicities, services, and accomplishments, a 4-mile run, a 90-minute ceremony that involved the 25th Infantry Division jazz band, a praise dance, poetry and special tribute speeches.
"Volunteering my time is always a pleasure, most especially if it is to use my God-given talent of poetry for a good cause." said Robert Bob aka Scott Free, a spoken-word artist and circuit action specialist with Five Rivers Co. "I stood up there and spoke words that expressed my appreciation for women all over for their struggles and sacrifices."
Women have accomplished so much dating back to World War I, said Sgt. Nickquawana Stephenson, a supply sergeant with Headquarters Support Company, XVIII Airborne Corps. "So when the military recognizes simple things like this, it is a remarkable feeling."
"As a female Soldier, I feel honored for being part of the great things we do," Stephenson
said. "And I wanted to recognize my leader for her mentorship and support. I appreciate what she has done for me, which made me a better person today."
"I think that it is a great thing that we honor women for their accomplishments," said Pfc. Jon Jerry, a military police officer with the 192nd MP Detachment. "Many times, their achievements go unnoticed or overlooked because of the stigma that women have in the military and in society."
This event has encouraged others to participate in the tribute to all women. For a few it can be more personal than others.
"Every day I pay tribute to my mother. She is my hero and my mentor," said Master Sgt. Patrina Soto, a senior enlisted advisor with USF-I J8. "It was an opportune time to acknowledge her for her magnificent triumphs as a woman. I am a reflection of her accomplishments. "
As the reduction in forces continues toward a final departure, service members and civilians on Victory Base Complex participated in what will be the last Women's History Month observance in Iraq.
"This is a memorable event because of the contributions and participation of everyone who played a role in putting this together," Blount said. "The team's efforts were excellent and professional.
As one of many successful events in Iraq, remember that you were a part of this special one, Free said. "All women are important and significant."
"Just take one moment of your time to tell a woman that she is appreciated," Jerry said, echoing the sentiment.