On Wednesday, November 9, 2016, Meredith College held its annual Honoring Women Veterans event in Jones Chapel, where students, faculty, staff, and other attendees gathered to honor those who have served in all branches of the military and have fought to protect the freedoms of the U.S. – particularly women veterans.
Rear Admiral Christina M. “Tina” Alvarado, the deputy chief for the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED) Reserve Policy and Integration, who has served 28 years in the Navy, served as the keynote speaker. The Enloe High School U.S. Army JROTC Color Guard, the Millbrook High School U.S. Army JROTC Drill Team, and the Meredith Chorale all participated in the event.
“I never in a million years expected to stay this long in the Navy,” said Alvarado. “And, I never expected to be promoted to admiral. It is not something that you plan for, but it is something that happens when you go about your daily life and you give your life to serving others.”
Alvarado shared her experiences in Afghanistan and talked about the suffering that the Afghan women experience on a day-to-day basis as part of everyday life. She reinforced how fortunate American women are to live in a country with so many freedoms and how many women sacrificed their lives for those freedoms. Nearly 200 women were deployed to Afghanistan after September 11, 2001, and died fighting against the “War on Terrorism,” and Alvarado honored those women.
“Less than one percent of our nation’s citizens ever wear the uniform of the armed forces,” said Alvarado. “That’s astounding, but the ones who do so put themselves in harm’s way for a number of reasons. But the one thing that we all have in common is our tremendous love of our country.”
Throughout her message, Alvarado listed a number of women in history, such as Marie Curie, Coretta Scott King, Florence Nightingale, and Harriett Tubman, who have paved the way for women today. Women who broke down barriers and are known as being pioneers. Women whose bravery and sacrifice was acknowledged.
“Today, women serve in every branch of the military including the Navy Seals,” said Alvarado. “And for the first time in military history, women can officially serve in all special operations forces, including the Army Special Forces.”
The event started and concluded with a piano arrangement of My Country, ‘Tis of Thee by organist Craig Barfield. Before the postlude, Barfield played a medley of service hymns and anthems, representing all five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces: Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Air Force, while veterans of each branch and their family members stood in recognition. Closing out the event was an exhibition by the Millbrook High School U.S. Army JROTC Drill Team.