Beyond the call of duty: Norton Center hosts pinning ceremony for local veterans
Attendees of November 18th’s Beyond Glory performance at the Norton Center for the Arts will get more than a tour-de-force show by award-winning actor Stephen Lang—they can also participate in a military pinning ceremony that honors military veterans from the College and community.
“As we began to plan the activities that would connect with the Beyond Glory performance, we met with members of Danville’s Heritage Hospice staff, since they also provide a program that recognizes U.S. veterans,” says Norton Center Executive Director Steve Hoffman. “We learned that Heritage Hospice conducts pinning ceremonies throughout the year to recognize U.S. veterans in our area.”
Because the Centre staff and faculty boasts a number of U.S. veterans—including President John Roush, Director of the Center for Global Citizenship Milton Reigelman and Special Assistant to the President for Endowment Bill Breeze—the Norton Center decided to host a pinning ceremony to celebrate their and other veterans’ contributions.
“Given that the performance of Beyond Glory celebrates everyday heroes, we thought it would be important to recognize local veterans who have at one time or another helped to protect our freedoms,” Hoffman says.
For him, the ceremony is a wonderful complement to the night’s performance.
“Stephen Lang portrays seven different Medal of Honor recipients from World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam War,” he explains. “The common theme among all of them is that ‘they were just doing their jobs.’ The pinning ceremony definitely adds a level of relevance to our community and for our students—in fighting for the rights of Americans, these soldiers were ‘doing their jobs’ and not necessarily seeking fame or fortune.
“Connecting the veterans on our campus and in our community to the veterans portrayed in Beyond Glory is a way to deepen the community’s context,” he adds.
One such veteran is Staff Sergeant Don Jenkins, originally from Quality, Ky., who received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his service in the Vietnam War. Specifically, he conducted a heroic rescue of several comrades while under heavy machine gun fire by the enemy, even after being wounded by shrapnel.
Stephen Lang, the star of Beyond Glory, will also attend the pinning ceremony. U.S. Marine Sergeant Dakota Meyer, a Columbia, Ky., native and the youngest living Medal of Honor recipient, has also been invited to attend.
Hoffman hopes that the ceremony will be meaningful not only to the veterans who are honored but also to the Centre students who attend.
“Some students might be coming to see Beyond Glory because they are curious about the minds of these heroes,” he says. “My hope is that they will leave the play with the revelation that by staying focused in what we do, doing it well and doing it for the right reasons, each of us can be making differences that are equally valued and important. There’s an interconnectedness between the war heroes we hear about and the everyday heroes in our own communities.”
The military pinning ceremony will commence at 6 p.m. in the lobby of the Norton Center for the Arts on November 18th, preceding that night’s 7:30 p.m. performance of Beyond Glory. For ticket information, visit the Norton Center for the Arts webpage.
By Mariel Smith