JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. – Honoring those from the past who sought a better future was the theme of the 99th Regional Support Command’s Women’s History Month celebration at the John. P. Pryor Army Reserve Center here.
Dozens gathered to hear Elizabeth Taylor, civil court judge of Bronx County in New York City and keynote speaker at the event.
“At one point, women were thought of as property,” explained Taylor, a Bronx native and youngest of six children. “We’ve come a long way.”
That way has been paved thorough the efforts of women throughout history who strived for gender equality, according to Mikey Kloster, chief of staff for the 99th RSC.
“This year’s theme is, ‘Our History is Our Strength,’ and what that means to me is that women have the opportunity to continue to make history because of the women who came before us to allow us to be anything we want to be,” said Kloster, who also serves as a colonel in the Army Reserve.
“There was a time when women could only be wives and mothers, and there were some very courageous women who took on the task of getting to a point where women could be anything they wanted to be,” she continued. “I certainly thank them because I’ve had the opportunity to have an amazing career.”
Taylor’s career has taken her from the Ohio Northern University School of Law campus, to practicing law in New York since 1995, to becoming a civil court judge in her hometown in 2008. But it’s not her personal successes for which Taylor would like to be remembered.
“Once I graduated law school, I decided that I wanted to return to the Bronx to give back to my community,” she explained. “How I decided to do that was to start the Thurgood Marshall Jr. Mock Trial Program.
“We recruit attorneys to go out to middle schools and they prepare the students to take on roles as prosecutors, defense attorneys, and witnesses,” Taylor explained. “These students, every year throughout the month of May, perform [mock] trials at the Bronx courthouse before actual judges.”
The program, whose namesake was the first African-American to serve as a U.S. Supreme Court justice, not only teaches children about the law, but also provides a way for lawyers to serve their communities outside the courtroom.
“Once you go out there and you achieve your dream – what you consider success – you should also consider giving back and helping out,” said Taylor, who began the mock-trial program in 1997.
Women’s History Month gives everyone a chance to give a little something back to the women in their lives.
“I hope that you take the time to thank the women who have made a difference in your lives, because women do a lot of stuff – mothers, lawyers, judges, soldiers – and at the end of the day, hopefully we have achieved what we wish to do,” said Kloster.