November 10, 2015

Veterans Day Assembly 2015

For the past month or so, we have been doing research on the alumni of St. Joseph's High School for Boys (the first Catholic high school in Manchester and the predecessor school of Bishop Bradley High School) who died serving our nation in World War II.  The high school opened in 1886 at 50 Lowell Street, directly across the street from the Red Arrow.  The building is still there and is presently owned by a group called Christian AfterCare Ministries, a ministry for former prisoners/criminals.

We didn't have a list of alumni who died in World War II so I went to the Diocesan Archives and met with Barbara Miles, the archivist for the diocese.  There we found copies of a publication called the "Red and Blue", quarterly publications by St. Joseph's High School for Boys published from the 1920's-1950's.  It was in an issue from 1944 that we found a list of all the alumni who died and those who served in the war.  Jackpot!  It turned out that our Development Office had these publications as well (unbeknownst to me) and in our files I found a 1946 edition of the "Red and Blue" with a revised list of those who died in World War II.  We then cross-referenced that list with the transcripts in our files and came up with 15 names.  There were others in the 1946 list that I could not find any information on and some didn't graduate from the school (they dropped out to serve in the military).  We stuck with the 15 men who we had records for and could find additional information on via the internet or looking through Union Leader articles on Microfilm at the Manchester Public Library.  I came across a Union Leader article from April of 1945 that spoke of an Honor Roll dedication for those who students and alumni of St. Joseph's High School for Boys who served and/or died in World War II.  The article said there were over 400 alums who served in the war, about 170 who dropped out to serve in the war, 16 who died, and 4 who were MIA.  

We presented all of this information at a special assembly this morning to mark Veterans Day.  We began the assembly with a reading from Luke 18:18-30 and the singing of the National Anthem by our choir.  I then gave a brief history of St. Joseph's High School for Boys and World War II and read an excerpt from Tom Brokaw's amazing book "The Greatest Generation" and then introduced the students to the 15 men who died.

One by one, students, faculty, and staff came up and introduced each man.  We showed their senior portrait on a screen and after reading their name, toned a bell three times.  We then read a brief biography of each man, including their senior paragraph from the "Red and Blue."  As you can imagine, we had more information on some than others as there was more information available online for some than others..  We could not find the 1938 and 1941 "Red and Blue" commencement issues so we didn't have paragraphs for those guys to share.  

Following the reading of the names and biographies, Elliott Lawrence '18 played "Taps" on his trumpet while Paul Boyd '17 and Michael Ducharme '17 unfurled an American flag and then folded it back.  The choir then sang "God Bless America."  To conclude, we invited up five veterans to thank them for their service and to tell us about their experience.  Three of the veterans work here - Mr. Clement '63, Mr. Hobart, and Mr. O'Leary, one was a parent, and other was John Jordan '54, a Manchester historian who was a big help to me in my research and who joined us.  They all told us their names, their branch, years of service, etc. to big applause from our student body.  

This project was indeed a labor of love and I hope it gave our students an appreciation for the sacrifices made by these men, men were really just boys and were just like the students sitting in the bleachers today, full of life, energy, and hope.  They gave their lives, I said, so that we could live our lives freely.

Here are the names of the men who died:

Cornelius Cronin ’26 
Robert Shine ’34 
Kevin Ahern ’35 
Andrew Leclerc ’35 
William White ’35 
Francis Barrett ’37 
Leonard Rattigan ’37 
William Cullity ’38
Edward Reed ’38 
Bertrand Smith ’38 
James Basquil ’39 
Donald McEvoy ’39 
Thomas Dwyer ’41 
Thomas Richards ’41 
Lawrence White ’42 

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