Meredith College commemorated Veterans Day with a special event, Honoring Women Veterans, on November 14, 2012, at 4 p.m. in Jones Chapel.
Click here to watch a video from the event.
Meredith President Jo Allen, ’80, welcomed those gathered, and shared some history of women’s military service.
“We honor the thousands of women who truly served, those who have been called the invisible soldiers because until the 1970s their service went largely unrecognized,” Allen said.
Allen said it was fitting that Meredith, as a women’s college, should especially honor women veterans but that the event was meant to salute all veterans. She asked veterans and active duty military in the audience to stand and be recognized.
U.S. Air Force veteran Ann Conde-Williams talked about her experiences in the military, calling it a wonderful life.
“I miss that distinctive ‘I’ve got your back’ mentality” found in the service, Conde-Williams said.
Brigadier General Norman C. Gaddis, who noted that he had joined the Air Force 70 years ago, talked about the role of women in the military since that time. In 2012, approximately 25% of those in the Air Force are women, Gaddis said.
“The Air Force has given me opportunities I never realized I would have,” Gaddis said, including representing the Air Force in 29 countries around the world.
Gaddis urged young people to find their own ways of serving their countries, including military service, the Peace Corps or in other humanitarian organizations, or by giving to others. He shared that one way he and his family had decided to support the next generation was by establishing a scholarship at Meredith College.
Earlier this year, Gaddis and his family established the Hazel Lee Gaddis Engineering Scholarship, in memory of his wife, Hazel Lee Gaddis. During his long military career, Norman Gaddis was a Prisoner Of War in Vietnam for 2,124 days. Hazel Gaddis became an activist and advocate for POWs and their families, serving as the North Carolina coordinator of the National League of Families. Her activities involved contacting the families of North Carolina servicemen who were Killed, Missing In Action or Prisoners Of War. As a coordinator, she worked directly with the Department of Defense and the State Department.
The event also featured an organ medley of service performed by Professor Emeritus of Music David Lynch, and the song “Homeland” by the Meredith Chorale, under the direction of Professor of Music Fran Page. The NC State ROTC Color Guard also participated.
At the event’s conclusion, participants gathered in front of Johnson Hall for the formal retreat of the American flag.
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