May 29, 2021 - Pastor Message10/20/2021
“The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.
We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, ‘of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion.’ What can aid more to assure this result than cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their deaths the tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.”
So reads, in part, the official proclamation establishing Memorial Day as a day of national remembrance by honoring the graves of those who gave their lives in the service of our country in the American Civil War. In subsequent years, as more American men and women died in our country’s service, the day’s purpose expanded to remember all who have given their lives in our armed forces in any war or conflict. While the scope has changed, the solemn duty we share as Americans remains the same to honor those who have died so that we could live in safety; who sacrificed their freedom to preserve our liberty; who suffered pain and horrors most of us cannot even imagine so that we can be free to pursue happiness.
There will be many ceremonies this weekend, both civil and religious, to carry out this solemn duty. We will celebrate Memorial Day Mass at 9:00 AM here at St. Boniface. Weather permitting, we will do so at the top of the circle of Mount of Olives Cemetery in front of the new columbarium, which we will also bless at that Mass. All are welcome to attend and to please bring a lawn chair as no seating will be provided. We also ask those who are able to please park in the lower lot and walk up to the columbarium in order to leave room for parking at the top of the circle for those who are not able to walk that distance. In the event of inclement weather, we will celebrate Mass in the church and bless the columbarium at a later date.
No amount of flowers, flags, or services will ever repay the impossible debt we owe the men and women of our armed forces who have given their lives for us. May our humble observance of Memorial Day nonetheless remind us of their sacrifice and renew our commitment as a nation to live up to the example of selflessness they exemplify, and let our own service of others in some small way be a token of gratitude for so great a gift.
Fr. Marc Stockton