CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. – First Army Division East soldiers recently celebrated Women’s Equality Day, marking the 93rd anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting women the right to vote.
The soldiers gathered for the Brigade’s “Women’s Equality: Our Spiritual Heritage,” prayer luncheon.
“Scripture, no matter what religious tradition, contain examples of individuals of great faith, particularly women,” said Lt. Col. Michael Lozano, chaplain for the 205th Infantry Brigade, First Army Division East. “And it is from this strong heritage we can draw, to ensure we continue to build an equitable society where all live free and full lives.”
Master Sgt. Pamela Johnson, Equal Opportunity Advisor, introduced the guest speaker, Chaplain (Col.) Kristina Moeller.
“Chaplain Moeller’s talk was both inspirational and captivating. In telling the story of the three women, their struggle and accomplishments; what they endured and how they over came their adversities made me realize that I could achieve anything I wanted as long as I put my mind to it, Johnson said.
Looking back at the past and what women have accomplished helps us move forward, Johnson added.
“It brings to mind a quote from Chaim Potok, ‘ … everything has a past. Everything – a person, an object, a word, everything. If you don’t know the past, you can’t understand the present and plan properly for the future’,” Johnson said.
Moeller, the first female United States Army Reserve Command Chaplain from Ft. Bragg, N.C., highlighted two women from the scriptures and one from history during her remarks: Deborah and Ruth, from scripture, and Harriet Tubman. She explained how all three represented courage, leadership, influence, and commitment.
Between 1850 and 1860, Tubman worked non-stop, risking her life 19 times, to guide more than 300 people from slavery in the south to freedom in the north.
“Southern whites put a $12 thousand price on her head, a fortune at that time. Southern blacks simply called her Moses. By the start of the Civil War, she had brought more people out of slavery than any other American in history – black or white, male or female,” Moeller said. “Harriet Tubman was born a slave; was poorly educated, yet these things did not stop her from changing lives; she brought enslaved brothers and sisters out of bondage because of her conviction for justice and freedom. She journeyed with others … journeying with them for a better life.”
The story of how Tubman carried a loaded pistol and told faint-hearted slaves ‘Dead folks tell no tales – you go or die,” was Sgt. 1st Class Eric Fitzgerald’s favorite part of the story.
“She knew if they were captured that they would be tortured and beaten and eventually identify who had helped them,” said Fitzgerald, the noncommissioned officer in charge of plans and operations for the 205th Infantry Brigade. “I was surprised to find out she had to work and save money to help save people from slavery. And she did it for years, not just one or two, it really was her life; it’s what kept her going.”
It was a reoccurring theme among the three women “For where ever you go, I will go … .”
Deborah, the only female judge of biblical times, persuaded Barak to face the Assyrian general Sisera in battle. And although she didn’t have any military training she didn’t hesitate to go and Barak followed, leading a successful counterattack against the forces of Jabin, King of Canaan and his military commander. Ruth, after the death of her husband, her brother-in-law, and her father-in-law, showed great loyalty by staying with her mother-in-law Naomi.
“Ruth accepts the reality that she may be a widow and have no children – essentially, she accepts a status of little value in society where women’s worth were measured by marriage and children. She also is willing to journey to an unknown land with a new people, new customs, and a new language. Her commitment was radical: ‘Where you die, I will die, and there be buried,’ Yet more amazing was her commitment: ‘Your God will be my God,’” Moeller said.
“Harriet, Deborah, and Ruth all journeyed with others in a way that changed lives and glorified God. Their Strength and their faith overcame death; enslavement, oppression, and fear … if you need strength for the journey, look at God. God will journey alongside … Hear his words, ‘For wherever you go, I will go … .”