USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, at sea (NNS) -- Deployed Sailors and Marines aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) celebrated Women's Equality Day Aug. 26 as part of the nationally-recognized Women's Heritage Month.
The crew celebrated the 90th anniversary of women's right to vote and honored the contributions of women in the Navy with a cake-cutting ceremony on the mess decks.
"Today we celebrate the ratification of the 19th amendment that gave women the right to vote," said Capt. Joe Clarkson, Truman's commanding officer. "It's hard to believe there was a time when women in our country didn't have the right to vote."
The event hosted particular significance for Truman Sailors as the carrier continues operations in support of ground troops in Afghanistan.
"One of the struggles that is going on in Afghanistan is over women's rights," Clarkson said. "The Taliban won't even allow women to go to school, much less have the right to vote or have the right to defend themselves. So, on this day, which is a great celebration for us in our country, here in our Navy, I think we need to reflect on those folks in Afghanistan and elsewhere whose women do not have the rights that we all enjoy in the United States."
Women's roles and significance throughout naval history has continuously evolved.
"Women weren't allowed on carriers before, and this year we've had our first female Carrier Strike Group Commander," said Lt. Cmdr. Michelle DeBourge, Carrier Air Group Maintenance Officer. "We've also had the first females selected to begin submarine training. We're all Sailors just getting the job done."
In honor of the anniversary for women's right to vote, Truman hosted its own poll for extraordinary female leadership in three categories: Most Dedicated Worker, Most Inspirational Supervisor and Most Motivated Leader.
"Being able to serve on a deployed warship today is an awesome opportunity, especially for me," said Senior Chief Aviation Machinist's Mate (AW/SW) Caroline Cuento. "Coming from the Philippines, it's a great opportunity and I am thankful to be able to serve the United States Navy. When I joined in 1989, women were only allowed on supply tenders, so we've gone a long way already. And even my rating, when I first got in there were very few women. Now, that rate has evolved with a lot more females."
Senior Chief Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Equipment) Senior Chief (AW/SW) Jessica Hendon, the leading Chief Petty Officer of V-2, became the first woman in her rating to achieve the rank of Senior Chief, and said she was humbled and appreciative of the efforts of the heritage committee to make the day a meaningful one.
"I think it's a wonderful thing that the Command is taking time to recognize how far we've come as women in the Navy," said Hendon. "It's been hard coming up in a predominantly male rate and trying to succeed without stepping on egos. I think days like today help us remember that we're appreciated, and I'm proud to be able to celebrate Women's Heritage Month onboard this ship."
The rights and opportunities women have far exceed those of females in the early 1900's. Personnel Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Rebecca Wilson, a volunteer coordinator for the event, from Benson, N.C., said she considers it an honor to be able to help out with the event.
"If you think about it, 90 years ago we definitely weren't where we are today," said Wilson. "I think that is easy to forget sometimes how far women have come - the challenges they faced and the obstacles that have been overcome - and this day is to recognize and celebrate them."
For more news from USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn75/.