History month honors women’s accomplishments

Col. P. Rebecca Halstead
21st Theater Support Command
deputy commanding general

***image1***Recently, I had the pleasure of being the guest speaker for Women’s History Month. I applaud the military for consciously celebrating diversity and establishing these special programs each month. After all, diversity is what has made our nation and our military strong, relevant, effective and united.
This year’s theme is “Women Inspiring Hope and Possibility.” Learning the true stories of women’s history can have a positive effect on just about everyone. The empowering stories of heroines, past and present, inspire feelings of personal strength, conviction, new possibilities and hope for an even better tomorrow.
Celebrating Women’s History Month facilitates an increased respect for women, as it allows us to gain more knowledge of individual accomplishments and the roles women have played in our history.
I would like to share a few simple vignettes of women of character … women who possessed principles and attributes which should not only urge us to look, introspectively at ourselves, but which should also ignite hope and inspiration in all of us.
Helen Keller: She was a symbol of triumph over physical disability. Helen Keller on character: “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired and success achieved.” She made a difference in other people’s lives because she saw the world through her heart instead of her eyes.
Rosa Parks: She refused to give up her seat to a white man and go to the back of the bus — not because she was a woman, not because she was black, but because she was a human being and she deserved to be treated the same as any other human being. She was firm in her belief that there are enough people who will have the courage and dedication to make this country better than it is.
Mother Teresa: Small of stature, rocklike in faith, Mother Teresa of Calcutta was entrusted with the mission of proclaiming God’s thirsting love for humanity, especially for the poorest of the poor. She left a testament of unshakable faith, invincible hope and extraordinary charity.
Col. Rhonda Cornum: Colonel Cornum currently serves as the commander of Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. She was a prisoner of war in Iraq in 1991 during Operation Desert Storm. On Feb. 27, 1991, an Air Force pilot was shot down behind enemy lines, and she volunteered to be part of the rescue mission. Thirty minutes into the flight, the Black Hawk helicopter she was on was shot down. She survived only to be captured by Iraqi Soldiers. While in captivity she always placed the safety of her fellow soldier and the mission ahead of her own personal pain.
Oprah Winfrey: Oprah has won the hearts of many because she is seen as a seeker of truth in herself and in others, her empathy, honesty and love of people have made her one of the most beloved women in America; a teacher who educates a devoted audience, she is like a close friend who visits more than 20 million homes a day.
My last vignette is of Capt. Maureen August: Captain August, a West Point graduate, who was married to Capt. Matt August. Both were serving in Iraq, when on Jan. 27, Matt was killed by a roadside bomb attack. Matt’s mother urged Maureen not to go back to Iraq, saying the family had given enough. Maureen replied simply, “I have to go back. I promised my Soldiers I would bring them home.”
Studying and learning more about these women has helped anchor my character even more, and I hope their examples will do the same for you. May each of us use our strengths to strengthen each other, just as iron sharpens iron, and make a difference in the lives of others.