Meredith College held its Veterans Day celebration, Honoring Women Veterans, on November 9, 2022. This was the 10th-anniversary event and a return to an in-person service after two years of virtual commemorations.
The event honors all veterans, with special emphasis on the contributions of women veterans. It featured a musical performance by Encore! and a keynote speech by Lieutenant General Kathleen M. Gainey, U.S. Army (Retired).
Gainey discussed her own military service, shared stories of women veterans, and talked about the Military Women’s Memorial.
Gainey came from a military family but called her career path in the U.S. Army an unlikely one. “I never planned on making the military a career,” but the Army continued offering leadership challenges that were appealing.
She served in the U.S. Army for more than 35 years, retiring in December 2013. Her past assignments include Deputy Commander, U.S. Transportation Command, where she led the command through a major strategic review and period of increasing forces in Afghanistan and decreasing forces in Iraq. She also served as the Director of Logistics for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Here she led a review of the dependency of contractors on the battlefield, updated guidance and equipment divestiture for the departure of forces from Iraq, and established an Interagency Logistics Council.
“I lived by the Army motto, ‘Be all that you can be,’ because of the people in the military who challenged me to achieve.”
She acknowledged that opportunities that are now common were not always available to women.
“Every generation of women who have served have helped break open barriers,” Gainey said. “They demonstrated how women could excel. I am eternally grateful to these women.”
Gainey also discussed the Military Women’s Memorial (MWM), formerly known as the Women in Military Service for America Memorial. Located in Arlington, Va., the memorial is commemorating its 25th anniversary in October. Gainey serves as an MWM North Carolina ambassador. She emphasized the importance of this memorial.
“More than three million women have served in the United States military … the artifacts and memories [of these veterans] will be lost if we don’t capture them in this memorial,” Gainey said. She closed by challenging the audience members to visit the MWM and to help find and register the stories of women veterans in the memorial.
The College’s annual event is presented by the Meredith College Honoring Women Veterans Committee, with assistance from Meredith Student Veterans Association and Service Scholars. In addition to this commemoration, Meredith community members can make holiday cards that will be sent to the troops via Heartillery Group. Card supplies are available in the Cate Center lobby through Friday, November 18.