Reagan Sailors Honor Women During Ceremony


Story Number: NNS060331-08Release Date: 3/31/2006 12:33:00 PM
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By Photographer's Mate Airman Christine Singh, USS Ronald Reagan Public Affairs

USS RONALD REAGAN, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) joined together March 29 to celebrate the many accomplishments of women in both the military and American society during a special Women's History Month celebration sponsored by the Ronald Reagan Strike Group Diversity Committee.

Reagan's month-long recognition of women throughout history culminated in the final event in the ship's hangar bay. The program was attended by hundreds of Reagan Sailors and included speeches, poetry and "Who am I?" skits.

"We started by putting a note in the Plan of the Day (POD) every day," said Senior Chief Quartermaster Nelfreed McKay, the primary advisor for the diversity committee. "They were just short little history notes about the importance of women throughout history both civilian and military."

According to McKay, whether the history being exposed to the crew is a civilian or military one, the importance is that everyone aboard comes to an understanding about history's influence.

"One of the major goals of diversity committee is to learn about each other and ourselves. It gives us an opportunity to learn about people, culture, experiences and creativity," said McKay. "And women's history is our history, so it's something we can all embrace."

According to Chief Information Systems Technician Christopher Culp from Training Division, one of the ways that diversity committee planned to reach the crew during the event was by reading poems at the ceremony.

"I read a poem written by Electrician's Mate 2nd Class Maribel Talley that was dedicated to the importance of mothers in our lives," said Hull Technician 1st Class James Armijo, a participant in the diversity committee.

"I wanted to be involved in the ceremony and when I found out what the poem was about, I volunteered to read. Mothers are a big part of our lives and the job they have is a hard one," said Armijo.

According to Culp, understanding the role that women play historically and currently is an important one to share with the crew.

"Events like this are really good for the crew," said Culp. "Every year, the number of women on board ships increases. When I was on the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) in 1998, there were roughly about 200 women on board. This year, on board the Reagan, we have about 600 - the most a ship's ever had."

The role of diversity committee is to be inclusive, according to Culp.

"It's difficult to find a time and location to do events like these when were out here floating in the middle of the ocean," said Culp. "But we usually try to have an event about once a month."

"Last year our feature guest speaker was a local anchorwoman for San Diego who spoke about the lack of inspiration she had growing up, from all the people who didn't think a woman could be a journalist, but also how meeting Connie Chung and seeing that a woman could become a successful journalist influenced her to achieve her own goals in that field," said McKay.

"Yet on the other end of the spectrum, our own Command Master Chief last year, Kathy Hansen, also spoke, incorporating a military aspect into the event that Sailors were able to relate to on another level," said McKay.

"Last month we celebrated African-American History Month and in April we will be commemorate the Holocaust Day of Remembrance, which I think will have a good turnout," said Culp.

Reagan is currently deployed to the Persian Gulf in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and maritime security operations. The ship and its crew of 4,800 Sailors left San Diego Jan. 4 on its maiden deployment.

For related news, visit the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn76/.

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