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NEWS | March 25, 2021

Georgia National Guard observes Women’s History Month 2021

By Caot Bryant Wine

The Georgia National Guard recognized the history of military service by women during a virtual event March 25, 2021, at Clay National Guard Center, Marietta, Georgia. U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Thomas Carden, The Adjutant General of Georgia, presided over the event.

“Organizations that fail to celebrate success have less success which to celebrate,” said Carden. “Today we are celebrating a lot of success through today’s ceremony.”

Following Carden’s opening statement, U.S. Army Maj. Tawanna Johnson read aloud the presidential proclamation commemorating March 2021 as Women’s History Month. Afterwards, a video presentation highlighted prominent women throughout U.S. and Georgia military history.

U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Wendy Jones, the battalion command sergeant major of the Georgia Army National Guard’s Marietta-based 781st Troop Command Battalion, 78th Troop Command gave the first of two keynote speeches.

In her remarks, Jones listed numerous examples of extraordinary achievements by women in U.S. military history. Her examples spanned from Deborah Sampson, a woman that disguised herself as a man and served in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, to U.S. Army Lt. Col. Lisa Jaster, first female reserve Soldier to graduate from the Army's Ranger School.

“We live in a society that is challenging the gender roles of the past,” said Jones. “As we celebrate Women’s History Month, we should take a moment to thank all the courageous women that had the determination and grit to become the firsts in their fields, that paved the way for current opportunities and set the example for women everywhere for all that can be achieved.”

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Alice Smith, the battalion commander of the Tifton-based 110th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 78th Troop Command, Georgia Army National Guard gave the second keynote speech.

Smith discussed the achievements of Cathay Williams, U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Marcelite Harris and U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Maria Britt.

Williams was the first documented African-American woman to enlist in the Army and serve in the American Indian War by disguising herself as a man. Harris became the first African-American female general officer of the U.S. Air Force. Britt was one of the first women to graduate from West Point and became the first female general officer and commanding general of the Georgia Army National Guard.

“All three women had tremendous determination, courage and bravery,” said Smith. “They laid the foundation that shows us that anything is possible with sacrifice, work extremely hard and never give up.”

This observation of Women’s History Month is the Georgia National Guard’s first since 2019. The outbreak of COVID-19 cancelled last year’s event. In lieu of the cancellation, the Georgia National Guard celebrated the role of women in military ranks in August 2020 on Women’s Equality Day.

The 2021 virtual event allowed the Georgia National Guard to celebrate Women’s History Month in a manner keeping with public health guidelines to mitigate COVID-19 spread. While the majority of spectators tuned-in online, a small audience donned in masks and physically-distanced attended the event in person.