"The product of profound struggle and fierce hope, the 19th Amendment reaffirmed what we have always known: that America is a place where anything is possible and where each of us is entitled to the full pursuit of our own happiness. We also know that the defiant, can-do spirit that moved millions to seek suffrage is what runs through the veins of American history. It remains the wellspring of all our progress."
It was these words from President Barack Obama in his 2012 presidential proclamation for Women's Equality Day that resonated with Fort Hood Soldiers as they celebrated equality among men and women within the military and reflected on the past 92 years since women gained the right to vote during a Women's Equality Celebration Aug. 24.
The day began with a reenactment of the Washington D.C. women's suffrage march as more than 1,500 Soldiers marched from 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary)'s Guidon Field to III Corps' Sadowski Field where the crowd was treated to several guest Soldier speakers who shared insight on the history of women's suffrage throughout the years and the important role women of previous generations played in securing equal rights for women of today.
Cpl. Jennifer Simien, 154th Transportation Company, 180th Transportation Battalion, 4th Sustainment Brigade, 13th SC(E), spoke during the morning's reenactment ceremony about the struggles of early women in the military and the struggles for those women to fit in with the other Soldiers.
"I realized there was a lot that I did not know about how far we had come," said Simien of the research she did prior to speaking. "The progress that has been made since 1920, it's just outstanding."
Following the suffrage march, the 4th Sust. Bde. hosted Fort Hood Soldiers at the Howze Theater for a Women's Equality Day celebration.
"It's important for us to understand our history, and that long arduous journey of our ancestors," said Patty K. Shinseki, the secretary of Veterans Affairs and keynote speaker for the event. "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
Shinseki also emphasized the importance of remembering the largest issue women of the early 1900's fought for, the right to vote, but also that complete equality has not yet been obtained and more work still remained to be done.
"Women created opportunities to be carried on by their daughters, and granddaughters, to realize a dream of limitless possibilities for generations to come. Still today, we hear about the debates and we see that much work remains," she said.
"Who carries the torch and champions these qualities today," she asked the audience. "We all must. Let's all vote in the upcoming elections."
Through all the years of struggles and sacrifices of the many women who came before today's generation, it is apparent that both men and women stand on much more equal footing than ever before.
The presidential proclamation continued, "Nearly a century after the battle for women's franchise was won, a new generation of young women stands ready to carry that spirit forward and bring us closer to a world where there are no limits on how big our children can dream or how high they can reach."