Sept. 10, 2009

Virginia Guard celebrates diversity on Women’s Equality Day

By Sgt. Andrew H. Owen
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Virginia National Guard celebrated Women’s Equality day and held their first annual Diversity Day with a performance of the stage show “Star-Spangled Girls” Aug. 26 at the Women’s Memorial in Arlington, Va.

  WOmens Diversity event

Sgt. Karen Domingo serves Sgt. Michael Wells some authentic Pacific American cuisine during the Diversity Day celebration at the Women's Memorial in Arlington, Virginia Aug. 26. (Photo by Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs) 

The Equal Opportunity Office of the Virginia Guard presented the program to a crowd of over 100 Soldiers, Airmen and civilians in the auditorium of the Women’s Memorial, located just outside Arlington National Cemetery.

The program placed special emphasis on military contributions made by women who served American forces during WWII through a performance of “Star-Spangled Girls,” a short musical, with a cast of five women compiled from the memoirs and letters of 37 women veterans.

The play represents the women veterans as they share their memories of basic training, service at home and overseas, love and segregation in the military through song and spoken-word.

The women in this play expanded on the legacy of the various women and paved the way for future generations to serve their countries with pride, according to Air Force Capt. Antoinette Allen, state EEO manager. “History is full of women who have fought and led troops into battle.

“I think this an appropriate vehicle which we acknowledge and recognize and even celebrate the contributions women make to our country,” said Maj. Gen. Robert B. Newman, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia.

To celebrate its first annual Equality Day, the Virginia Guard EO office had several tables with displays in the halls of the memorial. The tables were decorated with pictures and artifacts celebrating the different cultures represented in the Virginia Guard. Several of the display tables were manned by members of the Virginia Guard who are culturally linked to their table.

Sgt. 1st Class Clara Vargas and her mother, Estela Izquierdo, were on hand to run the Hispanic American display. Vargas and her mother wore hand-made costumes honoring their Hispanic heritage as they served up authentic Hispanic delicacies to the patrons of the festival.

  Womens Diversity event

Sgt. 1st Class Clara Vargas serves authentic Hispanic American cuisine during the Diversity Day celebration at the Women's Memorial in Arlington, Virginia Aug. 26. (Photo by Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs) 

Izquierdo travelled from New York to make the costumes and support her daughter during the presentation.

Vargas and her mother are both native to the Dominican Republic.

Running the Asian-Pacific American table was Sgt. Karen Domingo, a Virginia Guardsmen and a native of the Philippines.  Domingo wore a traditional Asian dress while she served sushi and answered questions about her heritage.

Among the attendees was Alyce Dixo, a former member of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, a unit noted for being the only African-American female unit to serve overseas during World War II. Dixon turns 103 Sept. 11.

Following WWII, Dixon worked for the federal government for 35 years. She lives in Washington, D.C.

In 1971 Congress passed a Joint Resolution declaring August 26 of every year as Women’s Equality Day.

The date was selected to commemorate the 1920 passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote. This was the culmination of a massive, peaceful civil rights movement by women that had its formal beginnings in 1848 at the world’s first women’s rights convention, in Seneca Falls, New York.

The observance of Women’s Equality Day not only commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment, but also calls attention to women’s continuing efforts toward full equality.

“This event is a celebration of all Americans; as we look toward the future, we can’t forget our past. So today we celebrate both in hopes that no one’s heritage or history is forgotten,” said Allen. “This event and every special emphasis observance is a reflection of this great nation’s ability to embrace the ideology of inclusion.”

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