Select Page

Today the world celebrates International Women’s Day as a testament to the enormous contribution women have made in every area of life. In turn, it also brings awareness to the equally monumental struggle and criticism they encountered while doing so. For generations, many sacrificed to pave a path for others to follow, and slowly they chipped away at the stone of discrimination. Unable to bust that rock wall completely, the work continues to this day. Moreover, while there is still struggle, it has not always been so entirely. Some societies operated with females in prominent roles like the Cherokee Nation, for example, held a “matrilineal kinship system”; families traced their lineage through the mother’s side of the family. Ancient Norse clans sent fierce women into battle, side by side with their male counterparts. Now, to come full circle, women flew combat missions during the global war on terror for The United States. Oftentimes when a nation has called for those to step forward, females have answered and performed with duty, honor, and courage. One such call came during the dark days of World War II. Factories experienced a labor void when a majority of the male population deployed overseas. Women quickly entered the workforce and picked up wrenches, torches, and rivet guns, giving birth to the iconic war poster “Rosie the Riveter.” In February 2021, The History Channel reported, “more than 310,000 women worked in the U.S. aircraft industry in 1943, making up 65 percent of the industry’s total workforce”. In contrast, before this, women comprised just one percent of the industry’s workforce. I have a personal connection to this as my maternal grandmother, Ethel (Smith) Williams, worked the aircraft line at the Lockheed plant in Marietta, Georgia. She also volunteered for the USO. Allow me a brief pause to reflect when I was a young Airman Recruit lugging my seabag through the airport the USO was one place one could stop and have a cup of coffee and a donut. I, like many of my shipmates, remain forever grateful for the warm cup and a smile. Sadly, we do not know much about her time there, as back then people did not put their business online for all to see, “like”, and comment on. She married my Grandfather Carl F. Williams, Sr.; they settled in and raised four children on a truck driver’s wage. While she never worked outside the home again, her efforts like so many others helped keep the nation free. The theme this year is #ChooseToChallenge. It would be unfair to ask someone to find a “Rosie the Riveter” and interview them, although that would be a tremendous honor. Instead, take on the challenge to spot women close to you and take note of their exceptional strength, talents, and contributions. Many go about their day and never broadcast their accomplishments; therefore, we must do it for them. A female law enforcement officer faces down a threatening suspect twice her size. And what of a firefighter rushing headfirst into a burning structure or a doctor kneeling over a patient in the emergency room performing chest compressions to save a life. Heroes walk among us this very day; some are female, others are male, but all are human beings nonetheless. See them, and most importantly, treat them as equals. Thank you.