TIKRIT, Iraq (March 9, 2006) " March is Women's History Month, a month that honors women and their contributions in the work force.
The first Women's Day was celebrated by Russian factory workers and it was later declared International Women's Day by the United Nations on March 8, 1911. Congress established Women's History Week in 1981 and later expanded it to Women's History Month in 1987.
Contributions made by women in the United States Army date back centuries before the first Women's Day to the American Revolutionary War, where women aided and cared for wounded Soldiers. The formation of the Women's Army Corps nearly 150 years later integrated women into today's fighting force. Women are no longer relegated to jobs in typing pools and hospital wards. They are working side-by-side with their male counterparts in nearly every field in the Army.
Staff Sgt. Tracy Birkman, Golf Company, 626 Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, is a motor sergeant at Forward Operating Base Remagen near Tikrit, Iraq. She has been in the Army for nearly twenty years and supervises a dozen mechanics that are mostly male.
"My job is part mentor and part den mother," she said. "My Soldiers are my kids and a lot times they act like kids."
Birkman knows first hand what it means to part Soldier and part mother. She has three children of her own. She also understands separation. This is her second deployment.
"Staff Sgt. Birkman is one of my best Soldiers," said Capt. Jacob Grabia, the Golf company commander. "She's very dedicated to her Soldiers and her job."
Throughout today's Army, women are performing roles their grandmothers may have only dreamed of, but they laid the foundation for a generation of women in leadership roles. Through the efforts of these pioneering women, the glass ceiling was broken. It led the way for Claudia Kennedy to be the first woman to be promoted to Lieutenant General in 1997. The Army owes a great deal to the contributions of the women in its ranks.
"What would men be without women? Scarce, sir, mighty scarce" wrote Mark Twain more than a century ago.