HCA dedicates flag, honors veterans
While the Stars and Stripes are a common sight around homes and public buildings throughout the country, the flag takes on a special significance on Veterans Day, when the nation honors those who have fought and continue to fight for the United States of America.
With that date in mind, Haywood Christian Academy honored both the flag and local veterans during a flagpole and flag dedication ceremony on Monday. The school’s new flagpole was donated by the Woodmen of the World, Lodge 226 of Waynesville, and the flag being dedicated was flown over the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C.
Students, teachers, parents and numerous veterans were present to witness the raising of the flag by the North Carolina National Guard. The event began and ended with a prayer, and as the flag flew over the school for the first time, everyone shared in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and singing the national anthem.
Headmaster Blake Stanbery said HCA always begins the school day with prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance, and he is happy to finally see a real flag out in front of the school five years after its opening.
“It’s been something that’s at the heart of our staff. They’re very patriotic,” he said. “You can’t separate God and country in our minds. We just know God is at the center of our (country’s) founding and to recognize that is important.”
He said he is grateful to Matt Wells with the Woodmen of the World for the flagpole and to Congressman Health Shuler for obtaining the flag for the school.
During the ceremony, the crowd was treated to patriotic reading from HCA students Tessa Shepherd, Sarah Womack, Patrick Brown and Luke Noland. Shepherd, 17, said she wanted to participate in the dedication to honor the veterans present.
“(The reading) is just in respect for the people that have served for us, and it’s showing that we care,” she said, adding she is glad the school has a flag out front now. “It’s really nice to see that.”
For Mark Schuler, a representative from the N.C. Department of Commerce Veterans Affairs, the dedication was a great way to honor veterans and teach the younger generations about the sacrifices made by men and women in uniform.
To illustrate the point, he shared the stories of William D. Halyburton Jr., of Canton, and Max Thompson, of Bethel, who were both recipients of the Medal of Honor for their heroic actions during World War II.
“I’m reminded how important it is for these children to get to see, to get to know and to get to understand the importance of our veterans,” he told the crowd.
There were many veterans at the ceremony, and among them was Perry McClure, a Vietnam veteran who came with the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 89.
“It’s a great thing,” he said, enjoying the lunch reception after the ceremony. “It means a lot.”
“They don’t realize what this day means to veterans and the country, especially the Vietnam veterans. We’re the forgotten bunch,” added David Arrington, who was at the event representing the Viet Nam Veterans of America Chapter 980. “It’s nice of them to do this.”