Since 1971, Northwestern High School has sat along S.C. 5 (West Main Street). But Friday, the day before Veterans Day,with the whole Northwestern student body and staff cheering, the road in front of the school that connects Rock Hill and York got a new ceremonial name: Veterans Memorial Highway.
Northwestern hosted an event at the same time signs that officially name the road were unveiled. Scores of veterans were guests of the school – many of them from the Patriot Guard Riders and Rolling Thunder veterans advocacy groups roared in and out on motorcycles.
Northwestern’s Troubadours sang the national anthem. The school band brass section played. Northwestern’s Air Force JROTC presented the flags and welcomed everyone.
Principal James Blake told everybody standing shoulder to shoulder, in unity, that the event shows the greatness, togetherness, and pride of being an American.
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The students also saw and heard first-hand from veterans why this day in November that honors all American veterans is so special.
“It’s great – naming the road and the event today shows respect for this country and all the veterans,” said Northwestern student Marye Burris, 17.
State Rep. Tommy Pope, R-York, started the ball rolling to have the stretch of S.C. 5 between Rock Hill and York named for veterans.
Part of S.C. 5 in Rock Hill for years was Veterans Memorial Highway. But several veterans asked Pope and other politicians to see if the whole stretch to York could bear the name.
The measure passed the S.C. General Assembly unanimously.
Pope was thanked by hundreds Friday, but accepted no praise.
“This highway and this event shows where the true thanks should go – to the veterans of our country,” Pope said.
The veterans sure loved the event – the students made a pathway among the teens and the veterans walked through to high fives and handshakes and even a few hugs.
Military veteran and Patriot Guard Rider member Ronnie Taylor said the student welcome was “tremendous.”
The Patriot Guard then rode to York along the newly named Veterans Memorial Highway route as York County and America readied to celebrate Veterans Day on Saturday.
Veterans Day events
* York Veterans Day parade, 10 a.m. Saturday, Congress Street, York.
* Fort Mill Veterans Day Ceremony, 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Veterans Park, Main Street, Fort Mill.
* Chester Veterans Day Parade, 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Chester fairgrounds to downtown.
* Lancaster Veterans Day Parade noon Saturday, downtown Lancaster.
* Veterans luncheon, noon-2 p.m. Saturday, Elks Lodge, 1644 Ogden Road, Rock Hill. Free.
* Veterans Day concert and service, 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Episcopal Church of Our Saviour, 144 Caldwell St., Rock Hill.