May 2007 - Volume 11, Issue 10


By Rev. Mark Connolly

Photo of a tombstone and an American flagI would like to share a few thoughts with you on the importance of Memorial day. It is not just another holiday. We all know it is more than cook outs and barbeques. It is a day that should remind us that in the history of our country when over 200 years have gone by our people have paid the ultimate sacrifice, the loss of their lives so that we can enjoy the four freedoms that make our country so great. We are part of a great legacy in this country. The legacy handed down by Washington and Jefferson, John Adams and Abraham Lincoln and all of the men of the past who paid tremendous prices themselves so we can enjoy this beautiful weekend.

Our country has had a period of sadness over the years because of the wars that have been part of our country. When you think back to the civil war and one of its aims was to eradicate slavery, over 600,000 people lost their lives. In our country during the second world war, so that we could avoid the control of a man like Hitler, our country lost over 400,000 young men and women. In Korea we lost over 53,000 young men and women. In Vietnam about 54,000 young men and women, not to mention the horrendous injuries that these people will be nursing for the rest of their lives.

It would be a wonderful contribution to our society if we could ever find a cure for war. We look for cures for cancer and diabetes and undoubtedly we will find them, but when it comes to finding a cure for war, this will be more elusive than the search for a cancer cure. On the second floor of the hospital called Sloan Kettering in New York in one of the corners, there is a little inscription that reads, there is a better way to do it, find it. Basically it refers to the methodologically used in trying to find a cure for cancer. When Pope Paul IV in 1968 spoke before the United Nations, he said, war, never again, never again. As simplified as that sounds, it is a reality that must become more dynamic in our lives as to how to eliminate wars or keep our country from getting so involved in so many as they do.

During this war in Iraq, all of us at rectories whether it was in New Jersey, New York or Connecticut, have gone into the homes of the parents who sons have been lost in Iraq. Generally they have a large photo of son or you can see a mother holding onto a flag and wondering why did this have to happen. It would be wonderful if we had a magic bullet that would prevent wars from happening. But there is an obligation all of us have to make sure that your grandson or your grandnephew does not become another victim of another war.

During this Memorial day weekend, many families will gather together to celebrate life. And they should because there is enough tension in every family life. On this Memorial day God gives 1440 minutes to every person. All we ask during this long weekend that you take one of those days filled with 1440 minutes and offer a silent prayer for those who are in Iraq, those who are in Afghanistan and those who might be called to make the ultimate sacrifice of their lives. One of the tragedies in America today is that we have seen so much violence. All of a sudden we see a flag draped coffin and after watching it for just a split second we are on to the next news item and we easily forget that each one of these flag draped coffins is a reminder of a young soldier or marine who gave his life for each one of us.

Photo of Iwo JimaToday we want to thank the unselfish men and women in the history of our country who have paid the ultimate price. We thank God for those men and women who give us the privileges we now enjoy. We have to pray to God that wars will one day come to an end and we have to ask God in our own spiritual lives to protect and guide so many members of your families and your neighborhood next year can celebrate Memorial day with us.