Brig. Gen. Amy Hannah, the chief of Army Public Affairs, speaks during the virtual Women’s History Month Observance Wednesday. Screenshot by Emily Mihalik.
Brig. Gen. Amy Hannah, the chief of Army Public Affairs, speaks during the virtual Women’s History Month Observance Wednesday.
On Wednesday, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall honored women who have served in the military during a virtual Women’s History Month observance.
JBM-HH Commander Col. Kimberly Peeples said the observance was about celebrating the contributions, sacrifices and accomplishments of women who not only helped shape the nation but the military as well.
“Each year the Department of Defense pays tribute to the women through steadfast determination and inspirational contributions have shaped America’s history and continue to pave the way forward,” said Peeples.
Peeples pointed out that Women’s History Month originated when Congress passed Public Law that authorized and requested the president proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as Women’s History Week. In 1987, after a petition by the National Women’s History Project, Congress passed Public Law 100-9 that designated the month of March 1987 as Women’s History Month.
“In the 21st century, the military has seen many female military firsts from West Point cadet leadership to Marine Corps Winter Mountain Leader’s Course,” she said. “The women of the United States Armed Forces continue to make strides in their respective branches and occupations. We celebrate those who have paved the way for the servicewomen of this millennium.”
JBM-HH Command Sgt. Maj. Matthew Majeski said that in 2016 all military occupational specialties became open to women.
“The best qualified are now afforded the opportunity to serve,” he said.
Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson, the commanding general of U.S. Army North (Fifth Army) and the former commander on Fort Myer before it became a joint base, said the observance was about celebrating the richness and diversity of women achievements, achievements that date back to the Revolutionary War. She said many fought alongside their husbands and some even disguised themselves as men.
“A lot has changed since then,” said Richardson. “In 1993, Jeannie Leavitt became the Air Force’s first female fighter pilot. In 2008, Ann Dunwoody became the first woman in the United States military and uniformed services history to achieve a four-star (general) officer rank. In 2014, Michelle Howard became the first female four-star admiral in the United States Navy.”
Richardson added that Marian Wright Edelman, the Children’s Defense Fund founder and president, once said, “You can’t be what you can’t see.”
“The aforementioned pioneers have shown us what you can be,” Richardson said. “They have left us a blueprint to encourage and empower the next generation of young women aspiring to be anything they want to be. As we continue to celebrate Women’s History Month, I encourage you to make history.”
Brig. Gen. Amy Hannah, the chief of Army public affairs, said this year’s observance theme is “Valiant women of the vote, refusing to be silenced.” She said this theme honors the brave women who fought to win suffrage rights for all women who continue to inspire all who have served the nation in key leadership positions that make a difference.
Hannah added that today’s women are Soldiers, Army civilians, veterans and Family members who are critical members of the Army team.
“The strength of the Army comes from its diversity, developing and maintaining qualified demographically diverse leadership (that) is critical for mission effectiveness and is essential to national security,” explained Hannah.
Hannah said women have more opportunities than ever in the armed forces. She pointed out that about 18% of the total Army is female, and all positions in the Army are open to women.
“We know when women succeed American succeeds,” Hannah said. “The strength of our nation ... makes it possible for every citizen to contribute to our growth and prosperity.”
Pentagram editor Catrina Francis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Catrina Francis