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MEMORIAL DAY - 2016

To all Cadet Alumni 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.


Cadets have served in our armed services since the founding of the corps in 1934 to the present day. You have brought us great honor and pride, and we bow our heads in humility.

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 1934 Cadets photographed during the early years of World War II, posed on the steps of The Church of the Most Holy Name in Garfield. All the Cadets in that photo were very, very young. Too young to join their fellow Cadets in uniform. 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 to my family members and fellow Cadets who made that flag sacred.

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 each 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 on it to honor all those who have served our Country during the 82 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. All of us have seen photos of American military cemeteries around the world. Have you ever stopped to wonder how many of those hallowed graves contain Cadets who never returned home. If you haven’t thought about it, now might be a good time.

For many years now Cadet Alumni have gathered together in many locations around the country and around the world 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 a traditional North Jersey Memorial Day Parade. They will probably be parading instead in some other American town close to the site where they are presently encamped learning their 2016 program, and learning also what it means to be a Cadet.

Our new young 2016 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. Our 2016 Corps of Cadets, along with the spirit of The Cadets who preceded them, will be marching together to honor all those who served, and most especially all those who made the ultimate sacrifice for us and for our beloved Country.

The torch has not been extinguished in the city where our corps began however. On Memorial Day some members of The Holy Name Cadets Alumni Corps will once again participate in the remembrance services at the War Memorial monument in Garfield. A Cadet Alumni drummer will play a continuous roll as the many names of Garfield’s war heroes are read, and another Cadet alumnus will play taps at the end of the reading.

Look in The Cadet History Book (still on-line at www.theholynamecadets.net) and you will see the faces of our revered heroes who now wait for us to join them in The Cadets Eternal.

The date and site of our traditional alumni-sponsored Caps-for-Cadets presentation has not yet, as this is written, been finalized. This yearly bonding of Cadets past and Cadets 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 82 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. Honor our Country, honor our men and women in the military, honor the Cadets we have lost to eternity, honor the 2016 young men and women who are about to write their page in our history book, and above all, honor the history, the traditions, and the values of this most unique of all drum corps. 82 years of pride, of accomplishment, and of love; with an 83rd year ready to begin.

Each year it is my very great honor to write this Memorial Day remembrance. It is an honor I cherish.

For Holy Name shall always be…

Dave Shaw, 50-58