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In recognition of women’s contributions to nation

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Carlos Barter
  • 90th Missile Wing Equal Opportunity Office

March is National Women’s History Month. The theme for 2016 is, “Working to Form a More Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Service and Government.”


Women’s History Month highlights women who have shaped America’s history and its future through their public service and government leadership. It began as a national celebration in 1981 when Congress passed a public law which authorized and requested the president to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as, “Women’s History Week.”


In 1987 after a petition from the National Women’s History Project, Congress designated the month of March as, “Women’s History Month.”


Many women have contributed their talents, hard work and service to bettering our nation in various sectors of our government’s history.


In 1933, Frances Perkins was appointed secretary of labor under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, making her the first female cabinet member in the United States. She held the position for 12 years, longer than anyone had before her.


Later, Perkins served on the U.S. Civil Service Commission under President Harry S. Truman until 1952. After leaving her government service career, she spent the rest of her life teaching and lecturing.


Another example of a woman in history is Deborah Sampson who was born in 1760. At 21 years old, she became the first American woman to serve in combat by enlisting in the Continental Army under the name Robert Shurtleff, during the Revolutionary War. She kept her gender hidden by tending to her own battle wounds, but she was discovered when she was hospitalized for a fever. In 1783, she was discharged from the Army. She later received a pension when a court found that she had performed a soldier’s duties.


Nellie Tayloe Ross became the 14th governor of Wyoming and the first female governor in the United States in 1925. Ross was elected to replace her husband who died while in office. In 1869, Wyoming was the first state to grant women the right to vote, and many in Wyoming wanted their state to be the first governed by a woman.


Then, in 1933, Ross was appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as the first female director of the U.S. Mint, a position she held until 1953.


Dr. Mary Walker was an outspoken advocate for women and the only woman ever awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.


Walker was born in upstate New York in 1832 and graduated with a medical degree from Syracuse Medical College in 1855. During the Civil War, she volunteered for the Union Army and worked as a nurse and later as a surgeon.


Through hard work, passion, dedication and perseverance these women, and many others, have made contributions and shaped our nation in many areas. Their struggle to gain acceptance, recognition and equal rights in society has been a long and arduous process.


As Capt. LaRae A. Johnson, 90th Operations Support Squadron once said, “Today, we honor women across the globe who, despite adversity and being knocked down time after time, continue to fight for gender equality, stand for change and their position in their workplace while maintaining an attitude of will, confidence and determination.”


The wing will host a joint service multicultural event on June 22 to honor the legacy of women from both past and present, in peace and in war, from arrows to aerospace, who helped build, maintain and shape our great nation. The combined event will also recognize all American ethnic groups who have contributed to the diversity and strength of our great country. For more information about the combined observance event or to volunteer, call 773-6060.