With a history rooted in the foundations of our country, Hampton Roads has a long tradition of being at the heart of the nation’s military community. Virginia Beach and its surrounding cities are home to nearly 83,000 active-duty personnel, making it the center of one of the world’s largest military workforces. With the addition of the only NATO command on U.S. soil, headquartered in Norfolk, our area owes so much to these individuals and their families for what they do each day to safeguard our nation and nations around the world.
Each year, Cape Henry Collegiate celebrates both active-duty and veteran members of the U.S. Armed Forces and NATO personnel through a special Veterans Day program. Third Grade students welcomed our special guests by lining the hallways dressed in patriotic attire, waving flags, and thanking each person for their service. This year’s event was highlighted with heartfelt speeches by Carter Spurr, a member of the CHC Class of 2025, and Cape Henry’s own Traffic Safety Officer, First Sergeant Daniel Lujan.
“As someone whose father served in the United States Army, I’ve always held a deep respect for those among us who serve and lead in order to protect our nation and our allies,” said Dr. Chris Garran, Head of School, to the nearly 50 honorees and their families in attendance.
“I am happy to have my family here with me today,” expressed CHC student and featured speaker Carter Spurr. Echoing the emotions facing military families day in and day out, he continued, “My mom, my sister, and my grandfather are here to support me this morning. But in keeping with military tradition, my dad could not be here because…duty calls. However, also in keeping with tradition, my mom is here representing both of my parents, so thank you Mom and we miss you, Dad.”
Carter’s father, a Navy commander, is set to retire in June after 22 years of active-duty service. Not only is Carter linked to the military through his father’s service, but Carter’s grandfather and great grandfathers each also served in the United States military, accounting for over 150 years of defending our nation. “To say I am proud to come from such a long line of service would be an understatement,” added Carter. “They, like all of you in this room, have provided our family with a legacy that has helped shape who I am and has instilled in me values like honor and integrity.”
Cape Henry was delighted to honor one of its own during the celebration, a well-known, friendly face to those who have been on our campus, CHC Traffic Safety Officer Dan Lujan. First Sergeant Daniel K. Lujan hails from Inarajan, Guam. The oldest of ten siblings, he enlisted in the United States Army on July 22, 1979, and served until September 2003. He served in multiple leadership positions as section chief, squad leader, platoon sergeant, and first sergeant that took him to posts across the United States as well as Korea, Hawaii, and Germany. In addition, Lujan is the recipient of many awards and decorations including but not limited to Meritorious Service, Army Commendation, Army Achievement, National Defense Service Medals, and the 2007 General Douglas McArthur award for law enforcement officer of the year. He is married to former Sergeant First Class (retired) Jane Ada Lujan. Together, they have four children—Daniel, Talisa, Leilani, and Angelena.
After hearing First Sergeant Lujan recount stories of his family’s early days in Guam and their years of commitment to military service, one can see how the military shaped him into the amazing member of the CHC community we have grown to know and love.
“There is no greater honor, for me, personally than military service to the greatest nation on Earth! Nothing like it! I would do it all over again,” said Lujan.
Lujan spoke about a unique group of veterans, those who served in the Vietnam War, and how they hold a special place in his heart. One Vietnam Veteran in particular, his former instructor, Drill Sergeant Jones had a lasting impact on Lujan’s life and leadership style. “He was tough, but fair, and would often take me to his office to give me pointers on things to do to be successful if I was to make the Army a career. He would often say, ‘Always place the needs and welfare that of your soldiers and their families before your own. When you do this, you will succeed.’”
For anyone who knows our “Officer Dan,” you know this statement epitomizes the caring, kind-hearted man we see helping students, both big and small, navigate carline and ultimately their futures.
“I also want to say thank you for the opportunity to continue to serve this community. It is all about the children here at Cape Henry. They bring me joy each day,” exclaimed Lujan.
As the event concluded and tokens of appreciation were distributed to our special honorees, it was hard to put into words what these individuals mean to both our nation and the Cape Henry community as a whole. Carter Spurr said it best when he stated, “To all of the veterans here today and those watching from afar, no matter where you are in your journey...thank you. You too have set an incredible example for your family, for your community, and for our entire country, and we are grateful for each and every one of you.”