By Liz Sullivan
They were just two of many commemorations held throughout the Diocese, the state and the nation. It was a chance to say “Thank you, we will never forget you.”
On May 29, as the nation honored its fallen service men and women, the Diocese of San Jose held Veterans Tributes and Memorial Day Masses at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Los Altos and Calvary Catholic Cemetery in San Jose.
In addition to the Masses, events featured the National Anthem, prayer, speeches, lowering of the flag, taps, moment of silence, a chance to pay respects at the Tribute Wall.
“On Memorial Day we call to mind countless men and women who have died in the service of our country,” said Monsignor Francis Cilia, during his homily at Gate of Heaven. “We remember our brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, friends. We also bring to mind those nameless heroes, whose number is beyond imagining. We pray in thanksgiving for them, their lives cut short by the horror of war.”
The practice of decorating soldiers’ graves with flowers is an ancient custom. Soldiers’ graves were decorated in the U.S. before and during the Civil War. The preferred name for the holiday gradually changed from Decoration Day to Memorial Day in the late 1800’s. Memorial Day was not declared a Federal holiday until 1967 and it became law in 1971 as the last Monday of May.
“We bring the joys, sorrows, hopes and fears of our lives and we pray that those who can no longer be with us will share in the peace of the coming Reign of God where there is no more sorrow or pain, but a new heaven and a new earth,” said Cilia, Vicar for Clergy.
Father Brendan McGuire, Vicar General; Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, presided over the Mass at Calvary Catholic Cemetery.