Catholic schools honor vets with Veterans Day programs

Schools honor veterans with prayer, verse and song. (Megan Marley/Key photo)

By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Associate Editor
Megan Marley
Social Media Coordinator

KANSAS CITY — Nov. 11, 2018 was a very special day: the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I and Veterans Day. There are U.S. veterans living who served in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf Wars, and Iraq, and all over America and in Europe, veterans were honored and thanked for their service with parades, church services and flag ceremonies.

At St. Patrick School in Kansas City, the school children thanked veterans with a prayer service in the church on Nov. 12.

Principal Kaci Monaghan said she wanted to honor both a St. Patrick’s teacher and the late Father Robert Stewart as veterans and as well-loved members of the school and parish community. The school had had a small prayer service for veterans last year and wanted to do it again. Fr. Stewart died unexpectedly last December.

Following the principal’s welcome and a prayer, a bagpiper played Amazing Grace as he entered the church and walked toward the sanctuary. First graders led the assembled students, teachers and veterans present in the Pledge of Allegiance just before the St. Pius X High School Choir sang the National Anthem. The school children read from poems they had written, and sang a song. Another poem, ‘Thank You’, was read by its authors, Maecy Hinkebein, Max Still, Lynn Nguyen and Haley Hunter.

Thank You
I can’t shake every hand.
I can’t put flowers on every grave.
I can’t console every family member.
But I can say thank you.

You have given me the freedom I enjoy today.
Your blood was shed in place of mine.
Your family grieved so mine could rejoice.
All I can say is thank you.

There are not words big enough.
There is not a hug strong enough.
There is not a smile wide enough.
All I can offer is thank you.

You are my hero.
You are in my thoughts.
You are in my prayers.
For all you’ve done, thank you.

Waving flags, the first, second and third graders led the assembly in Fr. Stewart’s favorite song, ‘This Little Light of Mine’. Bass voices mingled with treble, and eyes grew damp as everyone sang. Intentions were prayed, and the music teacher played Taps on the trumpet. Following another prayer and a closing statement, the bagpiper led the veterans down the center aisle to the narthex where all the students greeted and thanked them with applause. The veterans were treated to a donut breakfast and had the opportunity to read to the children or just talk to them.

The fourth and fifth graders at Saint Charles Borromeo Academy also put on a Veterans Day program in the gym the evening of Nov. 8, featuring marching, song and recitations from historical American pieces.

Zealously waving American flags, the children opened the program marching to ‘Stars and Stripes Forever’, followed by the recitation of the opening paragraph of the Declaration of Independence by three children in star-bespangled garb and the entire group drumming along to the ‘Liberty Bell March’.

After representative members of Boy Scout Troop 180 presented the American flag, Fr. Don Farnan, pastor of St. Charles Borromeo parish, gave an address and opening prayer for the group of around 200 people in attendance.

“On Veterans Day we offer military heroes a deep debt of gratitude. We want to thank them for their service and their patriotic attitude,” Fr. Farnan said. “Lord, bless this evening, these men and women, these boys and girls, and God bless America.”

The children then sang a medley of patriotic songs throughout a picture slideshow of veterans belonging to St. Charles Borromeo and Holy Family parishes. Following it, other patriotic and inspirational pieces were then recited or sung by the schoolchildren, including a presidents rap, ‘The Minuteman’, ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic’, Sojourner Truth’s ‘Ain’t I A Woman?’ speech, ‘In Flanders Fields’ and excerpts from the Constitution, Gettysburg Address, Anne Frank’s diary and others.

The evening wrapped up with further special recognition of veterans. First, a symbolic ‘White Table Ceremony’ to remember prisoners of war and those missing in action, with the children setting the small table with tablecloth and tableware, a rose and ribbon, a candle, a slice of lemon, salt, an inverted glass and a chair.

“Day is done, gone the sun, from the lake, from the hills, from the sky; all is well, safely rest, God is nigh,” the children sang. By this point, there were a few leaky eyes in the room upon hearing ‘Taps’.

Then, the children held aloft flags of each military branch as their song played — veterans in the audience stood up to be acknowledged as their military branch was recognized, amid applause and cheers.

Deacon Joe Whiston led a closing blessing. A few of the children distributed thank yous created in art class to the veterans, and a veterans-only drawing was held for a commemorative coin and a memorial brick at the National World War I Memorial before a retirement of the colors. A cookie reception followed in the commons area.

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December 16, 2018
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