For many years, I have wanted to honor our alumni who died serving our nation in war. Thankfully, none have died in the recent wars but six did die in the Vietnam War. Today we paused as a school community to honor those six men, all graduates of Bishop Bradley High School.
Our assembly began this morning with a prayer led by Mr. Mailloux '72 and the choir beautifully signing the National Anthem. I then gave a brief explanation/history of the Vietnam War and reminded our students that the men we were going to honor were not much older than they when they died. The youngest was 20 and the oldsest was 29. Six members of our school community - two faculty and four students - then read a brief biography of the men. Each one ended with the location of their name on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall and the prayer:
"May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen."
As each story was read, we projected each man's senior portrait on a screen along with their year of graduation, when they were born, and when they died. Following the reading of all the stories, Jon Mercurio '15 played "Taps" and we paused for a prolonged moment of silence. Catrina Sylvia '15 had asked me if she could sing the military anthems and since all of the six men served in either the Army or the Marines, she sang those two songs beautifully.
We then presented flags that were flown over the U.S. Capitol to representatives of the men's parishes. The flags were in a shadow box and were accompanied by a certificate attesting that they flew over the Capitol as well as the text of the stories we told about each man.
I then introcuced the three members of our staff who are veterans - Mr. Clement '63 of our facilities department, Mr. Hobart of our math department, and Mr. O'Leary of our language department. We also acknowledged some of our guests who are veterans and the school community gave them a sustained and loud standing ovation. It was quite moving.
Finally, we had a brief ceremony to retire the flag that had been flying outside our school for many years. It had become weathered and tattered so we unfurled it one last time, pledged allegiance to it one last night, and Elliot Lawrence '18 played "To the Colors." The flag was folded back up and presented to Pierce Gilman '15 who will destroy it for us in a dignified manner.
I spent months on this assembly, namely researching the lives of these six men and it was a sincere labor of love. I felt like I know these men and I am actually sorry it's all over. I pray they are all in heaven and have seen God face to face. Here they are: