Ambassador speaks on women’s success, roots

Angelika Lantz
21st TSC Public Affairs

***image1***It was all about role models when the 21st Theater Support Command’s 29th Support Group and the KMC hosted the 2007 National Women’s History Month celebration March 21 at a packed Armstrong’s Community Club on Vogelweh.

“Generations of Women Moving History Forward,” this year’s theme for the national observation, honors and celebrates the countless women whose courage and sacrifices have influenced the course of history and the role of women today.

The luncheon’s featured guest speaker, Ambassador Mary Carlin Yates, has been the foreign policy advisor to the U.S. European Command commander since September 2005. In addition to formulating and recommending policy options, she provides counsel to EUCOM leadership on all political-military affairs in an area of responsibility that spans 92 countries across Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

“We [women] have come a long way, whether that is in the military or in other walks of life,” she said. “Success is often rooted in guidance and encouragement along the way; therefore, women who have enjoyed such support need to pass it on.

“The role of mentoring is key. Every female role model never forgets the people behind her, where she came from.”

Ambassador Yates did not dwell on the multitude of accomplishments and successes that distinguish her 30-year career in the diplomatic service, but spotlighted her role models.

“Heroines,” she called these women, most of whom she met in Africa, where she served as U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Burundi from 1999 until 2002 and to the Republic of Ghana for three years after that.

While her photographs showed the images of her heroines, it was her anecdotes of compassion, devotion and selfless service that brought them alive for her captivated audience. Ambassador Yates described women whose convictions and strengths enable them to succeed despite adversity, conflict and even mortal danger. She spoke of women who fight for women and children and for those imperiled by discrimination and poverty.

Still, she said, the only thing she wanted the audience to take away from her presentation was to, “Find inspiration and turn around and inspire someone.”
This KMC event also showcased “Her Story, I was There,” depicting women serving the military and eventually, serving in the military, from the Revolutionary War to the Global War on Terrorism. Eleven KMC women in historic dress presented a poignant sketch of their courage and sacrifices.
The script was written by Sgt. 1st Class Edward Mercado, Equal Opportunity Advisor and 1st Lt. Rachel Sokalski, Assistant Adjutant, 29th SG.

“It came to me that the reason we call it history is because it is ‘his story,’” said Sergeant First Class Mercado. “So I came up with, ‘Her Story, I was There.’ I wanted to make people aware that women ‘were there’ since the foundation of our nation.”

Kelci Lee, a 13-year-old student at Sem-bach Middle School, won first place in an essay contest with her paper on Sarah Winnemucca, the first Native-American woman to publish a book.

“I really, really wanted to win the contest because I wanted to be here and be part of this event,” she said.