Mrs. McCASKILL. Mr. President, in observance of the upcoming Women's Equality Day on August 26, 2009, I wish to pay tribute to the women soldiers and civilians of the U.S. Army who serve and defend our great country each day--whether in garrison communities here in the United States, like at Ft. Leonard Wood in my native Missouri, or on the front lines of battle in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, and other places around the world.
Although women did not receive equal treatment or recognition while serving in the military during the Civil War or the wars of the 20th century, they now serve in many roles and capacities in the Active, Guard and Reserve components and perform equally as well as their male counterparts. Today's Army fighting women are critical to the success of the Army's mission, and their sacrifice on the battlefield demonstrates a clear call to duty that transcends any supposed gender limitations.
One such example of this bravery is Silver Star recipient SPC Monica Brown, who, when her convoy was attacked while on patrol in Afghanistan, disregarded a hail of enemy fire that threatened her own life and jumped into action in her role as a medic to pull wounded soldiers to safety and render lifesaving aid to them. I also think about the heroic actions of SGT Leigh Ann Hester, another Silver Star recipient and military police platoon leader. When Sergeant Hester and her fellow soldiers were ambushed south of Baghdad, she bravely led her unit through an insurgent ``kill zone'' and into a flanking position to assault the enemy with fire, killing three insurgents herself.
These acts of selflessness are also mirrored in the spirit of volunteerism and commitment that Army civilian women exhibit as they deploy to combat zones wherever the Army needs them. Like their male counterparts, these women are serving honorably and selflessly as architects, doctors, nurses, lawyers, structural engineers, logisticians, and in scores of other occupational specialties. And like our military women, they do justice to the millions of women who preceded them in history to fight for equal rights for women in America.
As we celebrate the great accomplishments of women in the military on Women's Equality Day, it is imperative that our Nation and leaders continue to evaluate additional opportunities for military service by women. While women have achieved and contributed so much to the Army and the overall military mission, some barriers still exist.
I look forward to a day when more combat aviation and ground occupational specialties will be open to women, for instance. I look forward to a day when there will be more women in the general officer ranks to accompany my good friend GEN Ann Dunwoody, the Army's first and only female four-star general in its entire 234-year history. Our military and government must never slow its commitment to giving women the access to the full range of opportunities that the military has to offer. In doing so, I am confident that these few remaining barriers will fall.
I strongly encourage my fellow members to honor Women's Equality Day on August 26 by thanking the military and civilian women of the U.S. Army and their families of their States for their commitment, bravery and unflinching support to our great Nation.