May 28-29, 2016


Of all the civic holidays we have during the year (New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Day, Presidents' 
Day, Patriots Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans' Day), I would say arguably that Memorial Day and Independence Day are the most sacred in the United States. I am not sure if the time of year contributes to that choice because it lends itself to being outdoors and having cookouts, but I believe it is a factor. But Memorial Day may even be more sacred because of its association with war, cemeteries and deceased loved ones. 

My father was a World War ll veteran and fought in the Pacific Theatre. He earned the Bronze Star and 
Purple Heart medals. I have the flag that was presented to my mother at his funeral. It is encased with his medals. He was very active in the American Legion for years and marched in parades and participated in services at cemeteries on all of the holidays including Memorial Day. I was present at many of the services in which he took part. These were sacred moments for him and all of the other veterans they honored so many others who served. When I was at St. Mary in Randolph prior to coming to Hyde Park we had a parish cemetery. We took as much pride in our cemetery as we took in our Church. Every year on Memorial Day I celebrated an outdoor Mass at the cemetery, and about 200 people gathered to remember all of their loved ones buried there and all of those who served our country. The students from Randolph High School would decorate all veterans’ graves with a flag and a geranium plant. You truly knew that this was sacred ground. 

There are many changes that take place in our society and our country. Many traditions and customs come and go over the years. Some call it progress. There are other traditions and customs that have been passed on for generations and we hope will never change. The solemnity and ceremonies of Memorial Day need to be respected and celebrated. We never want to forget those among us who were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice as well as so many others who returned but were never the same physically, emotionally or spiritually. 

I picture my father standing at attention in his American Legion uniform honoring his colleagues. As I look into his eyes I wonder what he sees. 

May the peace that so many fought for and we pray for, become a reality. 

Enjoy Life 
Fr Coyne


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