Tuesday marks a major milestone for the American military in promoting equality, especially within the United States Navy. A servicewoman of the US Navy became the first woman to be given a four-star admiral rank on that day in the US Navy’s 236 years of existence. It occurred at the Arlington National Cemetery with her family and fellow servicemen attending.

Admiral Michelle Howard is also to assume the position of vice chief of naval operations. This position is the second in command of the entire Naval military branch. Not only is Admiral Howard a woman, she is also an African American woman, this marks the first time an African American has assumed such a prestigious position within the American military. When Howard was induced with the new position, she said the Navy did not have a insignia set made for the female outfit “because they did not exist.” To amend that, they had to make a special contract to make it possible for Admiral Howard to receive her new military insignia at the presentation ceremony.

The secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus had this to say of Admiral Howard’s promotion as he presented the promotion ceremony for the Admiral.

“If we don’t judge people based on their ability, based on their capability. I hope I have always been passionate about that, but I know the intensity has increased since I am the father of three daughters, and I refuse to believe that there are any ceilings for them, glass or otherwise. That they can get to wherever their abilities can take them. And with that, they and countless others in the Navy now have a wonderful role model in Michelle Howard.”

Admiral Howard is widely known as leading the Task Force 151 which combated Somali piracy in the Gulf of Aden and recovering a hijacked cargo ship, the MV Maersk Alabama in 2009 and rescuing Captain Philips in the process. She was in the Pentagon during the terrorist attacks on September 11th of 2001 and helped coordinate efforts to respond effectively after being attacked directly at the American military headquarters.

To date, the military branches of the Army, the Air Force, and the now included Navy have had a four-star general servicewoman. Officials from all branches have announced that they intend to open front line combat operations to all women who meet physical and performance standards by 2016 to assume positions and carry the American flag in perpetuating democracy and the idealism of a free world.