Memorial Day 2017

Memorial DayOn Memorial Day (May 29, 2017) about a hundred people gathered at Epiphany for Mass and a reception. Veterans and their families, and other Epiphany parishioners and friends came together to honor those who have died and all who have served our country, to pray for peace, and to share memories.

K.C. Scull, retired Army Colonel (and involved particularly in Epiphany’s music and prison ministries), gave an opening reflection: “This holiday is rooted in the years after the Civil War when the survivors of battle and the families of the fallen, made a point annually to visit the grave sites and battlefields where their soldiers had died, decorating the grave markers with flowers, wreaths, and flags. This practice became ingrained in the societies of both the Union and Confederacy. The federal government established Decoration Day 1888 and created the official designation of Memorial Day in 1967.”

We extend gratitude to all those who have served or are currently serving, laying down their lives for the common good.

We also extend appreciation also to KC and all who helped to prepare and serve for this moving celebration. Special thanks to the Cabral family who have provided "the brass" and played wind instruments for a number of years -- particularly for Taps; to Julie Stuart for coordinating the refreshments and serving afterwards (and to Lori Brien who did this for many years before this); to Gary Marvin for helping with the liturgy preparations; and to Fr. Bill Griner for presiding in Fr. Randy’s absence.

As KC announced on Monday, “Our hope today is for us to be inspired by these honored memories to be better citizens, more faithful servants to others, and always mindful of our fallen American heroes.” We pray that peace comes to our world, so that this ultimate sacrifice can become unnecessary…

KC ScullHere is KC’s full text:

Good morning and welcome to the 2017 liturgy commemorating the 2017 Memorial Day Holiday. My name is K.C. Scull and again it is my privilege to provide a short introductory reflection for today's service. As always, I commend the parish leadership for encouraging and supporting this Memorial Day liturgy and remembrance particularly our pastor Father Randy and today our former pastor Father Bill Griner for supporting this day.

As a short reminder, the historical background for this holiday is rooted in the years after the Civil War when the survivors of battle and the families of the fallen, made a point annually to visit the grave sites and battlefields where their soldiers had died, decorating the grave markers with flowers, wreaths, and flags. This practice became ingrained in the societies of both the Union and Confederacy. The federal government established Decoration Day 1888 and created the official designation of Memorial Day in 1967.

By any name this day is intended to remember the sacrifice of the soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, and many others who have lost their lives in military service in our nation's conflicts. This year in our perpetual state of war, thirty-three service members died in or near combat. They were from every service, both men and women, and today we acknowledge their sacrifice in a special way. For these thirty-three families this Memorial Day will be like no other.

Why should we go out of our way to remember those fallen in war?

I hope to illustrate this point using the context of a speech delivered by Douglas MacArthur to West Point cadets in 1962. The old general was addressing the WP classes of 1963, 1964, 1965, and 1966. These classes would bear the major brunt of the fighting in Vietnam, a country most of them at that time could not find on a map. MacArthur's speech, called “Duty, Honor, Country" focused on the leadership and character that would be demanded of these young officers-to-be; however, by extension he was reiterating a code for all those called to military service in the Armed Forces of the United States. (By the way, this speech has been recognized as one of the top 100 most significant American speeches.) Speaking to the future officers he said:

"You are the leaven which binds together the entire fabric of our national system of defense. From your ranks come the great captains who hold the nation's destiny in their hands the moment the war tocsin sounds. The Long Gray Line has never failed us. Were you to do so, a million ghosts in olive drab, in brown khaki, in blue and gray, would rise from their white crosses thundering those magic words: Duty, Honor, Country."

Who are these ghosts to which the General refers? I would suggest that these could be the immortal souls of those who have gone before us in military service that cost their lives. Their sacrifice appears ever more in vain if we who are left behind do not elevate their memory and seek to draw inspiration from them.

Our hope today is for us to be Inspired by these honored memories to be better citizens, more faithful servants to others, and always mindful of our fallen American heroes.

Thank you for listening. It was my honor to provide this reflection. Thank you for being here and God Bless America.