Western Pines Hosts Ceremony Honoring Veterans

Assistant Principal Scott Paladino, teacher Steven Gordon and Principal Robert Hatcher.

Western Pines Middle School in The Acreage held its first Veterans Day observance on Wednesday, Nov. 6, recognizing family members of students and staff who serve or have served in the United States Armed Forces.

Teacher Steven Gordon was part of the original team of staff when the school first opened its doors. He championed the inaugural celebration and was pleased with the turnout.

“We are a perennial A school. I opened the school, so I have a strong connection to Western Pines,” he said. “I’ve been involved with placing the flags at the National Cemetery, Wreaths Across America and the Honor Flights — and I wanted to do something for our school,” Gordon said. “We have about 35 honorees. The kids are very excited, too.”

The Western Pines Symphonic Band, directed by Richard Powali, performed several songs for attendees, including the national anthem, “Pax Americana,” “American Folk Trilogy” and a medley of all the armed forces’ anthems.

Western Pines Principal Robert Hatcher began the celebration by thanking those who came to join the students in honor of veterans.

“Your service does not go unnoticed. My wife and I, we both have service members on both sides of our family, and this is an incredibly special event for me,” Hatcher said. “It is very humbling, and I want to thank all of you for coming to participate.”

Students remained respectful as their classmates and family members were honored, and many were surprised to see the name Gordon appear on the screen.

“My dad served in the U.S. Navy as an airman. When he was a teenager, he was inducted into the Order of the Arrow,” Gordon said. “He continues to work twice daily as a crossing guard. My dad is the youngest 83-year-old you’ll ever meet. Dad, we thank you for your service.”

The colors were presented by Seminole Ridge High School’s color guard. Gordon then conducted a presentation where all the honorees for the event were announced, introduced and given a certificate of appreciation for their service. Members of the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Marines, U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and the National Guard were present.

“It was a fantastic celebration. Between the number of veterans and active duty service members we have in our armed forces, this is just a very proud community, and we are very proud of all of our folks who serve,” said Hatcher, who added that he expects the event to become an annual tradition.