More than 1,000 people gathered at Cedar Grove Cemetery on Monday morning for the traditional observance of Memorial Day. This year’s keynote speaker was Sergeant Major Kellyane O’Neil, a Dorchester native who is currently assigned to Womack Army Medical Center in Fort Bragg as the Patient Services Sergeant Major. The mom of three told the outdoor assembly that she “never played Army or even dreamed of being a soldier.”
“But in 1980 I enlisted in the Army,” she continued, “and chose to be a member of the greatest, best trained and most powerful army in the world as an active duty soldier serving for 32 years as a combat medic.”
The Centre Street native discussed the military health facilities she has worked at in her career.
“Who would have imagined years ago that we would have over 200,000 women on active duty. That is almost 15 percent of our force,” said O’Neil, who closed her remarks with a prayer:
“Oh God, I ask for divine strength to meet the demands of my profession. Help me to be the finest soldier medic I can be. If I am called to the battlefield give me the courage to conserve our fighting forces by providing medical care to all who are in need. If I am called to a mission of peace give me the strength to lead by caring for those who need my assistance. Lord, finally, help me to take care of myself, keep me out of harm’s way and being me home to the ones I love and are waiting for me so patiently. Amen.”