Veterans’ Day commemorates the end of World War I at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. This year’s national observance of this momentous occasion marks the 100th anniversary of “the war to end all wars”. And while wars involving the United States or conflicts across our world may not have diminished, as a faith community, we nonetheless continue to pray for peace. Peace is more than the absence of war. It is more than just quiet silence. Peace making requires empathy for others, and developing a vigilant attitude for freedom and justice.
In addition to our prayers for peace, St. Agnes is dedicated to honoring the valor and sacrifice of those who have served our country. These protectors of peace and liberty were at the center of our recent Veterans Day prayer service. On Friday, November 9, our school community gathered to honor our veterans and the selfless sacrifice that they have offered to our country. These Americans who have responded to the call of military service are the citizens who bravely run toward the cries of those in need. Moreover, members of the armed forces do not serve because they yearn for war. Rather, they thirst for peace and will make immeasurable sacrifices to tilt the axis of injustice toward the freedoms that we believe should be afforded to our human family across the globe. Author Claudia Pemberton once described our nation’s protectors as a land wherein “America without her soldiers would be like God without his angels.” It is with this poignant view that we used November 9 as an occasion in which to honor the brave men and women who courageously responded to the call of service to our country.
Our commitment to educating our students on the importance of expressed gratitude to the members of our nation’s armed forces didn’t end there. On Monday, November 12, members of the St. Agnes School community paid a special visit to the Baltimore National Cemetery on Frederick Road. There our students and their families participated in a unique, yet little known military tradition. Our “Pennies for the Protectors of Peace” project saw our students offer a prayer of gratitude and leave a penny upon the headstone of over 1000 of the deceased soldiers, sailors, airmen and guardsman whose final resting place is this national cemetery. As the tradition goes, a coin left at the grave site is meant as a message to the deceased soldier's family that someone else has visited the grave and has paid their respect.
In a country where some may say that civics is no longer taught to the current generation, at St. Agnes we not only teach our young people the importance of the duties of our American citizenship, we also provide our students the opportunity to engage in those duties with prayer, service and reverence. On behalf of the entire St. Agnes School community, I would like to extend our gratitude to all the men and women who have generously served our country in protection of our national freedoms.