A special thank you to all of our supporters and hardcore Constitution Day Rally attendees. Your unwaivering dedication touched us deeply and strengthened our resolve to not let anything get in the way of achieving gender equallity; not even a little rain.
Our last speaker, Brenda S. ("Sue") Folten, Board Chair SPART*A, was delayed on her way to the rally and arrived as we were breaking down the stage. The text below is Brenda's speech which we would like to share in appreciation of her persistence and commitment. Thank you Brenda.
We Are Woman, 9/13/14:
“On November 16, 1776, Molly Corbin and her husband, John Corbin, along with some 600 American soldiers, were defending Fort Washington in northern Manhattan from 4,000 British troops. John and Molly crewed one of two cannons the defenders possessed. When her husband fell, Molly took his place at the cannon and continued firing until she, herself, was seriously wounded.
On March 20, 2005, Sgt Leigh Ann Hester's MP squad of two women and eight men in three Humvees were shadowing a 30-truck supply convoy when they were ambushed. Sgt Hester maneuvered her team through the kill zone and into a flanking position, where she and her squad leader, SSG Timothy Nein, assaulted a trench line with hand grenades and grenade launcher rounds. They cleared two trenches and over two dozen enemy soldiers to protect their convoy.
The Army Nurse Corps was established in 1901 over the objections of men who said that women didn't belong in the military. They are not strong enough; they interfere with that delicate process of male bonding that enables men to fight and risk their lives for each other; they might be raped by the enemy.
Last week the winner of a Marine Corps Association essay contest was a woman Marine who argued that women didn't belong in the infantry because they aren't strong enough; they interfere with male bonding; and they might be raped by the enemy AND by their fellow Marines.
Meanwhile, the Army - MY ARMY - just opened Ranger School to women, saying to our women soldiers, in effect: Show us what you got.
There is a battle over the soul of our Armed Forces - between those who believe manhood necessarily includes bullying, preying on the weak, and raping women...And those who stand for the warrior ideal of honor and courage and the notion that, as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs said,
"VALOR KNOWS NO GENDER."
We have to keep challenging the leaders who value upper-body strength over character, who think that being a warrior is more about swagger than courage, who are invested in a view that the strongest woman is inferior to the weakest man.
So why should you care about this issue?
Whatever your view of the uses of the American military, this culture has ripple effects - to our sports teams, to our colleges, to our streets. Whatever your view of the military, many young women want to serve. This is their dream: to serve their country. This is what they choose to do. And the young women in our all-volunteer force have made our military stronger; And smarter; And better.
Thank you for letting me stand here today for the women serving in our military. Gay and straight, cis-gender and trans, they are strong. They are smart. They are brave. They are not victims; they are warriors. And just as they stand up for us, we must stand up for them.