Catholic church honors fallen veterans on Memorial Day


Catholic church  honors fallen veterans on Memorial Day
June 01
00:05 2017

Waterloo, N.Y., was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by then-President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966.  It was born to honor those from the Union who died during the Civil War until it was changed to honor all fallen heroes of any war following World War I.

For the second year, the congregation of St. Benedict the Moor Catholic Church held a special service to honor those in the armed forces who have passed away. 

The short service included singing from soloist Raymond O’Neil from the Gospel Renaissance Choir and piano playing from Jimmy Lowery, choir director of New Jerusalem and Big 4 Choirs.  Also included were the words from war veterans.

Issac “Ike” Howard, a veteran and past president of Winston-Salem Chapter of the NAACP, was the main speaker and spoke about the history of Memorial Day and his time in the armed forces.  He went on to tell the audience that the fight is not over, as blacks are still fighting for similar issues they were 40 years ago no matter how subtle they may be.

“The war for freedom is still on,” he said.  “The battle is still here for freedom and civil rights.  We as a nation are being challenged for our true purpose of freedom, justice and equality.”

Howard closed his message by quoting a snippet from President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.  He says that if you did not know it was from the address, you would have thought someone today had written it because many of the themes are still prevalent to this day.

Jerry Hanes, a U.S. Army veteran who served in the Vietnam War, also took to the podium.  He spoke about the negative reception blacks received once they returned home from the war.  He said theprevailing thought was that blacks would be treated differently once they returned home but was saddened to see things they were as they were when they left.  He implored everyone to continue with the fight for justice and equality.

Paul Sutherland, commander of American Legion Post 128, spoke about his time with the American Legion once he left the military. He expressed his appreciation for Memorial Day and the sacrifices those who served before him in the military had made to pave the way for him and other blacks.

“This day is important because when you look at who is in office now, they are trying to reinstitute the same things we fought for 150 years ago,” he continued.  “They are trying to reverse any progress we have made and we must remember what we fought for during the Civil War.”

Those in the audience were elated with the service.  Ben Piggott, director of Carl H. Russell Sr. Community Center, said we must never forget the meaning of this day because of all the unsung heroes that have died in war fighting for equality.

“We are blessed just to be able to walk the streets in this country and that is partly due to the efforts of our veterans,” Piggott said.  “We would not have the freedom we have now if it were not for the veterans.  Every child needs to know this and needs to salute the veterans for protecting this land.”

St. Benedict pastor, Father Basile Sede, thought when they had this service last year it was great, so he definitely wanted to bring it back this year.  He says it is important to remember those who have passed in service because history is a big part of human development.

“We have got to thank God and be fearful and remain grateful because what we are enjoying today is thanks to the labor and swea of those who have died for us,” said Sede.  “That is why the whole idea of Memorial Day is so important to me.”

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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