The long-awaited dedication of the Hawken Veterans Memorial took place on September 23 on the Great Lawn at the Upper School campus in Gates Mills.
Several years in the planning, the challenge was spearheaded by Brinton Lincoln ’94 and his planning committee of fellow veterans. The memorial honors the 479 Hawken veterans who proudly served our country and pays special tribute to the 14 who died while in the line of service.
The ceremony began with the Color Guard processional and the raising of the American flag as Rick Tate, Hawken faculty member, played “To the Colors.” Alpha Company members Praveen Kumar ’22 and Ella Wong ’23 welcomed the attendees and shared details about the project and how it came to be, acknowledging ceremony attendee Bill McCoy ’38 for conceiving the idea for the memorial nearly a decade ago. They also explained the Hawken Alpha Company’s role in the project, including their successful fundraising efforts.
After thanking the attendees, including both veterans and active military, Head of School Scott Looney spoke about how service of all kinds, and specifically service to our country, calls out the highest ideals of Fair Play. US Air Force veteran Brinton C. Lincoln ’94 then emphasized that personal sacrifice made by all veterans and active military is “worthy of commemoration,” adding, “I am immensely proud of our school.” He also thanked Bill McCoy for planting the seed for the memorial and Scott Looney for “keeping the idea alive and offering vociferous support.”
US Army veteran Peter Scott, Hawken faculty emeritus, offered the keynote speech, in which he addressed his allegiance to the military because of its “culture of loyalty to one another” and what he learned during his service: humility, the importance of always carrying yourself upright, and the understanding that we are brothers regardless of culture or race. “In the end,” he said in closing, “it all comes down to three words: duty, honor, and country.”
Martin Shulz ’82, US Army, introduced a special presentation by Alpha Company members, who pre4sented challenge coins, engraved with Hawken’s motto to honor veterans: “That the better self shall prevail and each generation introduce its successor to a higher plane of life.” Randy Rizor ’70, US Army, led a tribute to Hawken’s 14 Gold Star veterans, inviting active military and veterans to salute and other attendees to place their hand over their heart as he read their names. The ceremony concluded with “Taps,” performed by Christopher Gerace ’22.
During the ceremony, Bill McCoy ’38 was presented with the flag that was flown at the Veterans Memorial for the past four months, and Jeff Biggar ’68, whose tireless efforts brought Bill’s idea to fruition, was presented with a Hawk sculpture that was designed by art teacher Denise Buckley and created in the Fabrication Lab by Nick DiGiorgio, director of maker spaces.
The Hawken Veterans Memorial features a circular wall standing several feet high around a flagpole. Sculpted metal benches designed by Ms. Buckley and fabricated by Ken Roby ‘81 flank the interior face of the wall. Surrounding the flagpole are 14 bronze sculpted hawks on poles, each of a different design by Ms. Buckley, to honor our fallen veterans. The flag and hawks are illuminated in the evening. There is a stone Pathway of Honor traversing from the White House through the memorial and down to the driveway. Flanking the pathway are 25 polished black granite blocks, each bearing the name of veterans.
Thank you to planning committee members Brinton Lincoln ’94, Jeff Biggar ’68, Randy Rizor ’70, Martin Schulz ’82, Lindsay Nelson Lehtinen ’97, F. David Coleman ’69, Lauren Pacini ’59, Sarah Pearson Dorenkott ’06, and Peter Scott, and to members of Hawken’s Alpha Company, the student-led club that is advised by Julie Agar and engages in activities with members of our armed forces, for planning this dedication ceremony. As Brinton noted, “May this monument be always and to all a reminder of Hawken’s devotion to service and the solidity of our community to answer the call.”