Moorestown High School held its annual Veterans Day assembly on Nov. 11 in the auditorium, an event that didn’t take place last year because of COVID. Only a handful of people could attend due to health concerns.
“This year it was virtually livestreamed to the classrooms of (the) teachers, but the normal year it’s in person and it’s a major shift from last year, because last year there was no in person assembly at all,” said Keyan Vojdani, class officer and member of the junior student council executive board.
The Veterans Day assembly is a well-honored tradition for the high school.
“It’s (basically) a time to honor all of the veterans who served for our country,” explained Vojdani. “But the ultimate sacrifices that they make is what keeps us safe in (our) country that we love. (These) veterans, they risk their life for us every day, and it’s a way to essentially pay tribute to them and show our thankfulness for their service to our country.”
Veterans from Moorestown and neighboring communities were welcome at the assembly. The guest speaker was Father Matt Pawlikowski, who gave a speech to students about Father Emil Kapaun, a Korean War chaplain and prisoner of war whose story resonated with him.
Pawlikowski became aware of Kapaun through a story written about him by Mike Dowe, a West Point graduate and retired Army colonel. Pawlikowski is currently a civilian chaplain at the United States Military Academy at West Point.
“A secondary mission of my life is (just) to tell the story of Father Kapaun, which is such an inspiring story of service,” he said.
Pawlikowski praised the high school for celebrating Veterans Day and dispensed some advice to students.
“If you ever want to thank a veteran — because so many people do nowadays — if you want to thank a veteran, be a great citizen (that) loves his country and loves the ideals (that) we stand for and become that.”
Lisa Walko was chosen as this year’s recipient of the American flag, presented by senior student council members Alex Bernstein, Steven Hansen, Avani Giri, Claire Hurren and Brian Kaye. Walko was the school nurse until she retired in December of 2020. She is also an Air Force veteran.
“Giving something (back) to her during this time period is something that (really) resonates with (the) veterans, and it’s a way to show our gratitude to the people who protect us every day for our life,” said Vojdani.
Adam Connor, junior class president, made a closing speech.
“Every service member, whether veterans, those on active duty or those in our military academies who are preparing to serve deserve our profound respect and admiration for (their) dedication to the nation,” he said.
“We can never fully express our gratitude to our veterans and their families for everything that they have sacrificed on our behalf,” Connor added, “but what we can do is ensure that the legacy of every veteran is honored and respected.”