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CHS Holds Heroes Night

Left to right, Juan Pacheco, Retired from the New York Fire Department; CHS Principal Dr. Kim Schroeder; UCPS Superintendent Dr. Mary Ellis; NC House of Representatives and Air Force veteran Craig Horn (receiving the game ball); and CHS School Resource Officer Jim Kennedy, Retired New York Police Department.

CHS hosted a Heroes Night ceremony at the football game on September 11, 2015, as a way to commemorate the 9/11 anniversary and to honor and thank servicemen and women. Law enforcement officials from both Union and Mecklenburg counties, firemen and first responders from the Waxhaw and Wesley Chapel fire departments, as well as current and veteran military servicemen and women were all invited to attend. The evening began with a special ceremony to honor and thank all the guests for their service. The opening speech explained the tribute.

“We must never forget that September 11, 2001, was not only a tragic day for our country, but for the world. You will notice that our stadium flag has been lowered as a testament that we will never forget those who died and that their sacrifice will not be in vain. Tonight, we want to remember and honor all those who have sacrificed their lives for our peace and safety. Tonight, in Cavalier Stadium, is “Heroes Night.” We honor our first responders, our military, and our veterans and ask that you please stand to welcome them to the track.”

“It was an incredible honor to be able to take a moment to recognize all those who protect us and keep us safe,” said CHS Principal Dr. Kim Schroeder.

The event was spearheaded by Deputy Jim Kennedy, CHS Student Resource Officer. Kennedy, presently retired from the New York Police Department, was working as a detective in New York City on 9/11. He was part of the team mobilized to the Brooklyn Bridge to get people out of New York City when the city was shut down and the only way to escape was on foot.

“Heroes Night was not just about us service men and women but also about paying tribute to all the families who lost victims in the 9/11 disaster. Even after the tragic event of 9/11, additional losses are still occurring from 9/11 related illnesses,” said Kennedy. Kennedy’s son Brendan Kennedy was one of the honored guests in attendance from the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department.

The ceremony included performances by the CHS chorus singing “America the Beautiful” and the marching band playing “God Bless the USA” and the national anthem. Mr. Juan Pacheco, a CHS parent who is retired from the New York Fire Department and served during 9/11, led the Pledge of Allegiance. The South Charlotte Cadet Squadron 800 presented the colors.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, the game ball was delivered to Representative Craig Horn. Mr. Horn has served in the NC House of Representatives for District 68 since 2010. He is also a United States veteran who served in the U.S. Air Force from 1962 to 1969.  

CHS was proud to have several honored staff members in attendance representing the armed forces. Social Studies teacher Wayne (Butch) Phaneuf served in the Navy from 1971-75. He said he also attended in honor of his father who is a Navy WW2 veteran. At the age 92, he was unable to attend.  

“If you look at the pictures of me, I'm wearing his SeaBees hat and the ribbons on my shirt are his Asiatic/Pacific campaign and Philippine Liberation ribbons,” said Phaneuf.

Robert Hodges was another serviceman in attendance who is also a CHS social studies teacher. Hodges began his service in the Army on Active Duty in April of 1991. He has served in the Army Reserve since August of 1993. From April 2005 to April 2006 he served in Afghanistan as a part of Operation Enduring Freedom. Hodges shared that the Heroes Night event was a reminder for him that “Freedom isn’t free.”

CHS Band Director Todd Ebert served in the Marine Corps from 1990-93. He was in attendance at Heroes Night in his role of conducting the marching band.  

“Having served in the armed forces during a time of conflict, I am completely aware of the sacrifices that our military and public service members make for our country. With music being such an emotional outlet I feel it is extremely important to prepare the musical selections to a high degree of performance standard. I feel that we owe our service men and women the dignity and respect to bring our best product to these events. I am also proud to be in a county and community where events such as Heroes Night can exist,” said Ebert.

Dr. Schroeder said, “Heroes Night was powerful. It was special. The air of gratitude and appreciation could be felt throughout the entire stadium.”

Written by: Paula Tautfest. Photo courtesy of Debbie Fincher.
Posted: Sep 25, 2015 by Paula Tautfest

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