RICHMOND, Virginia –
Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia, joined the rest of the nation in celebrating March as Women’s History Month. This year's theme is "Working to Form a More Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Service and Government."
A special program was held in DSCR’s McKeever Auditorium March 30 recognizing the many outstanding contributions women have made to this great nation and around the world. The dozens who attended the lunchtime program learned, through presentations, about Malala Yousafzai, the young girl who defied the Taliban in Pakistan and demanded girls be allowed to receive an education. She survived an assassination attempt by a Taliban gunman in 2012. Yousafzai was awarded the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, making her the youngest recipient of the award.
They also learned about Mary Eliza Mahoney, the first African-American professional nurse in the United States who was heavily involved with the women’s suffrage movement, which began in 1848 at the first women's rights convention held in Seneca Falls, New York. It was the struggle for the right of women to vote and run for office and was part of the overall women’s rights movement.
Then there was Frances Clalin-Clayton. She fought in the Civil War, serving in the Missouri Regiment. Since women weren’t allowed to serve in the military, she disguised herself as Union cavalryman Jack Williams.
The guest speaker for the event was Nanette Grindstaff, a management and program assistant for Defense Logistics Agency Aviation Customer Operations Directorate’s Mapping Division.
She told of her experience growing up the daughter of an Army soldier, where her family moved a minimum of every two years. “My older brother Bruce was born in Rockford, Illinois. My sister was born in El Paso, Texas; I was born in France; my younger sister was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. My younger brother was born in Okinawa, Japan and my littlest sister was born in Hollywood, California,” said Grandstaff.
She said she followed in her father’s footsteps and enlisted in the Army where she served two years as a military police officer before being kicked out in 1975 because she had gotten pregnant.
“At the time, I was angry, but as I got older, I realized it was just how things were at the time,” said Grandstaff.
“Although I was in for a short time, the Army changed me. I saw I was capable of achieving that I had set for myself. I learned I didn’t want to be aggressive, but I did want to be assertive. I learned to accept change because it’s inevitable no matter where you are or what you do,” Grandstaff said. “I understood how the world worked. That although women wanted to be equal, they also wanted to be soft. It was a difficult balance.”
Grandstaff said that while women have made great strides in achieving equal rights, there is still work to be done. “Even now you have people who still believe a woman’s place is in the kitchen, but if a woman can do the same job as a man, and I mean don’t cut corners, have women do exactly what a man is doing, they should not be denied,” said Grandstaff.