Women’s Equality Day 2011

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The following blog was posted by Cmdr. Glynn Smith on behalf of Vice Adm. Sally Brice-O’Hara.

Coast Guard Vice Commandant Vice Adm. Sally Brice-O'Hara makes the keynote address during the 2011 Women's History and Equality Celebration at Communications Area Master Station Atlantic in Chesapeake, Va. U.S. Coast Guard Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.
Coast Guard Vice Commandant Vice Adm. Sally Brice-O'Hara makes the keynote address during the 2011 Women's History and Equality Celebration at Communications Area Master Station Atlantic in Chesapeake, Va. U.S. Coast Guard Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

Earlier this week, our Nation celebrated Women’s Equality Day, commemorating the adoption of the 19th Amendment, which recognized women’s right to vote. The observance offers us a chance to remember, with pride, that the Coast Guard has been a leader on issues of women’s equality. In 1977, we became the first Armed Service to open all billets and opportunities to both men and women.

On November 23, 1942, Congress enacted Public Law 773 establishing the Women’s Reserve as a branch of the Coast Guard. Members of this branch became known as SPARs, an acronym drawn from the Service’s motto, Semper Paratus, Always Ready. U.S. Coast Guard illustration.
On November 23, 1942, Congress enacted Public Law 773 establishing the Women’s Reserve as a branch of the Coast Guard. Members of this branch became known as SPARs, an acronym drawn from the Service’s motto, Semper Paratus, Always Ready. U.S. Coast Guard illustration.

Wednesday, I celebrated Women’s Equality Day at Coast Guard Communications Area Master Station Atlantic, in Chesapeake, Va. These professionals at CAMSLANT are responsible for a wide range of communications services that support our world-wide Coast Guard operations.

We heard remarks from two of our Services’ senior enlisted leaders: Master Chief Petty Officer Emily Jennings, the rating force master chief for the yeoman rating and Senior Chief Petty Officer Jennifer Lowden, school chief of the machinery technician A-school. Senior Chief Lowden is not only the first women to serve as a Coast Guard school chief but also the first to become a machinery technician senior chief.

They continue a long tradition of women serving and leading in the Coast Guard. The legacy stretches back to our predecessor U. S. Lighthouse Service, where women served as the paid and appointed keepers of critical lighthouses as early as 1828. Kathleen Moore, who stood lighthouse duty for an astounding 72 years during this era – saving over 21 lives – was one. I have wondered if she was too busy with her remote lighthouse duties to even hear of the Seneca Falls Convention in July of 1848 that kindled the fires of suffrage. I have to believe she would have approved – by 1948, she had been quietly proving a women could handle traditionally male responsibilities for more than 40 years!

The Coast Guard will name the ninth of its new fast response cutters after steadfast Kathleen Moore. I hope the ship will serve as a symbol of the many opportunities the Coast Guard offers to anyone – men and women – willing to work hard and serve their Nation!

Semper Paratus
Vice Adm. Sally Brice-O’Hara

During her visit Vice Adm. Sally Brice-O'Hara also met with CAMSLANT personnel and toured the facility.  U.S. Coast Guard Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.
During her visit Vice Adm. Sally Brice-O'Hara also met with CAMSLANT personnel and toured the facility. U.S. Coast Guard Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

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