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MEMORIAL DAY - 2012
To all former Cadets and family members of Cadets, past and present, now serving our country in the military; we offer our deepest respect and gratitude. You are in our hearts and our prayers every day. God bless you. God bless America.
Most people don’t know that The Holy Name Cadet Corps actually began life in 1917, but it was a short-lived existence. World War I was just beginning, and the first members of Holy Name were needed elsewhere. So the corps was disbanded, and our young predecessors, many even younger than Cadets of the modern era, went off to foreign lands to defend the world against tyranny, some never to return.
Many of you have probably seen the photo of the newly re-established Cadets from the early 1940s posed on the steps of The Church of the Most Holy Name in Garfield. All the Cadets in that photo were very, very young. Standing tall in the uppermost row of Cadets in that photo is a flag with a blue star and the number 70 on it. During World War II if a member of your family was serving in the military you placed a flag in your front window with one blue star for each family member in uniform. If the star was gold you knew that someone in that house had made the supreme sacrifice. In my grandparents front window was a flag with four blue stars on it. I was too young at that time to understand the significance of that flag, but I do now, and I am forever grateful.
The young Cadets in that photo were so very young because the older Cadets had gone off to fight for America in foreign lands, for our country and for us. The 70 on that flag represented 70 Cadets in uniform. 70 members of our Cadet family…young men just like you and I and all the young men and women who have followed. These thoughts bring back so many memories of Cadets I knew and marched with. Cadets who after their years in maroon and gold donned the uniforms of the Army, the Navy, the Marines, the Air Force, and the Coast Guard. I think of them often. I knew them. I shared an important part of my life with them. My devotion to them, my feelings for them, my pride in what they did has always touched my soul and made my spirit soar.
On Memorial Day though it becomes larger than just me and how I feel. It is about how we all feel. It makes me swell with pride. It helps me to understand in a different way the many reasons for my deep and very personal feelings for The Cadets, both the ones I knew and the ones I didn’t. That flag with the “70” on it, if it were to be made today, would have a far larger number of stars on it to honor all those who have served our country during the 75 years since that photograph was taken. I can’t even begin to imagine the size that flag would have to be now if there was a blue or a gold star on it representing every single Cadet who served our country with so much honor, and with personal sacrifices beyond imagination.
For a number of years now Cadet Alumni have gathered together to honor our brothers and sisters who have passed into eternity. This year, sadly, our Cadets will once again not be able to participate in the traditional Hawthorne, New Jersey Memorial Day Parade. Neither our alumni, nor other spectators gathered to see the parade, will not see the new young 2012 Cadets, the inheritors of the great gift passed onto them by the Cadets of the 1917 WWI corps, and the Cadets of the 1940s WWII corps, and the Cadets who fought in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti, Panama, and country after country . The Cadets who were commissioned as officers at West Point and Annapolis and the Air Force Academy or at V.M.I., The Citadel, and Valley Forge.
The torch has not been extinguished however. On Sunday, June the 10th, The Cadets and Alumni of The Cadets will gather once again, to celebrate who and what we are, who we once were, and the ties that bind us one to another. We will gather together on our 78th year of history to salute the centennial year of the church where it all began for our corps, The Church of the Most Holy Name in Garfield, NJ. Together with the church who gave us birth, we will recommit ourselves to the promise of the future secured by so many who gave their lives so our future generations, with God's grace, will not have to share that great burden.
The setting this year will be The Church of the Most Holy Name in Garfield, with a memorial mass for all those we have lost and remember still, and a mass of celebration for a church where the sound of our horns and drums once echoed through the hallways. As said, this year it will be a mass of celebration to bring the Centennial year celebrations of The Church of the Most Holy name to a triumphant climax, but it will also be a mass of loss for those Cadets whose name will live on forever in our hearts. Those who served their country when called upon to do so. Look in The Cadet History Book and you will see their faces, the faces of heroes one and all.
The mass will begin at 10:30 AM. It will be followed at approximately 11:30 AM by a concert in front of the church on Mersellis Place, where the Cadets will salute all we were, all we are, and all we are yet to become. This tribute to our past history will simultaneously salute the church whose name we proudly bear. For Holy Name shall always be...
Another major event will be held the day preceding the heritage event noted above. On Saturday, June 9th, at Northern Highlands Regional High School in Allendale, NJ. The Cadets will spend the day rehearsing, followed by an afternoon family picnic. Details on that event along with ticket prices for the picnic will be announced soon by The Cadets office in Allentown. The picnic, in turn, will be followed by a uniformed presentation of the Cadets 2012 program entitled "12.25." Following the exhibition our alumni will have their first opportunity to meet our 2011 Cadets to show their support, and to wish them a safe and enjoyable, and successful season.
The traditional Caps-for-Cadets presentation will follow the picnic. This yearly bonding of Cadets past and present will once again serve as a symbolic gesture of our pride and solidarity. The past will meet the present, and once again we will all be one, because at that moment all of our new Cadets will become Holy Name Cadets. We will place our hands on each others shoulders, young and old, Cadets past and Cadets present, and sing our song of pride and glory, The Holy Name Hymn. As we sing we will be honoring the 78 years of Cadets who have gone before. We will represent those 1917 Cadets, and those 1940s Cadets, and all the other Cadets who have brought us so much honor in the way in which they lived their lives and the way in which so many served their country when called to the colors.
So, though it will not be on Memorial Day, it will be a day full of memories. Some of us will remember what it was like when we were Cadets, while others far younger will begin to understand what it means to be a Cadet. Have a rich and thoughtful Memorial Day my fellow Cadets, and then on Sunday, June 10th come to The Church of the Most Holy Name at 10:30 AM, and on the day preceding, Saturday, June 9th, travel to Northern Highlands Regional High School in Allendale for the celebration and partying that is sure to make new memories.
Honor our country, honor our men and women in the military, honor the Cadets we have lost to eternity, honor the young men and women who are about to write their page in our history book, and honor our corps by your presence at the significant events of June 9th and 10th. Celebrate with us the 100th anniversary of the church where it all began.
For Holy Name shall always be…
Dave Shaw, 50-58