By Genma Stringer Holmes
MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL — The 40th Area Conference of the Central Area of The Links, Incorporated convened in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Area June 7-11, 2017. During the conference, Nashville Sheroes were recognized for their unwavering service to our country. Daphne Ferguson Young, D.D.S. (Army); Sharon Carter, D.D.S. (Navy); LoLita Toney (Army); and Rosetta Miller Perry (Navy) were honored at the Civic Luncheon along with twenty-three other women veterans and active duty members as part of an initiative of the 19th Area Director, Glenda Masingale Manson titled Honoring Our Sheroes. Manson kicked off her administration at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts where she honored the Central Area’s first Link Sheroe, Lt. Colonel Ferguson Young in October 2015.
After the successful launch of the Central Area’s initiative, The Links Incorporated launched a social media campaign, #LinkSheroes, during Veterans Months by recognizing members who are veterans or in the military who protect and guard our liberties and freedoms around the globe. In respect of their leadership, The Links highlighted their military service. The social media campaign spotlighted members from all branches of the United States military and shared the rich history of African-American women who have served our country. The campaign was picked up by media outlets throughout the country and on military bases and has been recognized by several national organizations for awards including an “Excellence in Communications” by IABC (International Association of Business Communicators.)
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, “Women have served in the U.S. Armed Forces since the Revolutionary War, but their numbers paled compared with their male counterparts. Today, there are more than two million women veterans across the United States. They represent more than 9 percent of all living veterans and are one of the fastest-growing segments of the veteran population. They are expected to be almost 18 percent of the total veteran population by 2040 and already comprise 20 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.” What is often not acknowledge is the role of African-Americans who have served, especially African-American women.
“We want to acknowledge our sisters, who have military backgrounds and their families. We are very proud of them and the sacrifices they have made for our country. We must never take our freedoms for granted nor the women who helped fight for those freedoms,” stated Glenda Newell-Harris, M.D., 16th National President of The Links, Incorporated.
Manson, the daughter of a Montford Point Marine, stated, “Our patriotism is not often reflected in media stories. The Links, Incorporated is changing that narrative by starting within our organization with our sisters who served.” She further added, “According to history, women did not receive permanent military status in the regular and reserve forces of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and then-newly created Air Force until 1948 when President Truman signed the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act. Enslaved women carried messages containing military intelligence during the Civil War. And the stories of the heroic women who served as nurses during the Vietnam conflict earned a state of prominence on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. It is vital that these stories are brought to light for all of the warrior princesses who want to follow a patriotic path in serving their country bravely. The Central Area of The Links, Incorporated wants to support and acknowledge the service, dreams and realities of the women who have served, who are serving and who will serve in the U.S. Armed Forces.”
The Parthenon (TN) Chapter and the Music City (TN) Chapter were also recognized for supporting their communities Sheroes and for being pilot chapters of the Honoring Our Sheroes initiative. Dr. Janice Garnett, the Central Area National Trends and Services, Chair, facilitated the honors. Also in attendance was Genma Stringer Holmes, National Social Media Manger for The Links, who helped create the social media campaign.
Young, Carter and Toney are members of the Parthenon (TN) Chapter and Miller Perry is an Alumna member of the Hendersonville Area (TN) Chapter.