On November 11 of each year, our nation honors the gift of service that has been provided by the men and women of the United States military. At St. Agnes, we look at this day as a special occasion in which to celebrate a humble group of American citizens, whose selfless service to our country is worthy of our prayers and thanksgiving. Accordingly, our school community expressed our appreciation with a unique Veterans Day prayer service event. I truly believe that as both a community of faith and as a nation, we are called to express our gratitude for a life of honor that our military heroes have lived. So each year on this day, our school gathers together to give thanks for those who have provided their honorable and faithful service to our country.
This year’s prayer service began with the Presentation of Colors by the UMBC Naval ROTC. Following this presentation, our Student Council led our prayer service which included the ballad, 50,000 Names on the Wall, as the backdrop to a testimony from a grateful BEAR NATION. This song, was performed by 8th grade student Finn Smith with accompaniment by our Music teacher Dan Baker. The song offers a moving tribute to those family and friends who search for a way to once again be connected to the lives that were lost in the Vietnam War. The way they choose to reconnect is to offer a simple and unpretentious gift of leaving behind memories of that soldier’s life. And as a sort of St. Agnes version of this ballad, our students placed many of the included items from this song along a creatively designed representation of the Vietnam Memorial that we called the “Wall of Gratitude”. The “Wall” was constructed by our Art teacher Heather King and was autographed by each student and served as a symbol of our appreciation to all of our veterans. Later that day, our “Wall of Gratitude” was presented to the military members at the American Legion in Catonsville (Post 263).
After the prayer service concluded, a group of our veteran guests paid a visit to each class to share their stories and answer our students’ candid questions. We are truly thankful for the time our veterans offered to our young BEARS.
As we concluded our Veterans Day, a group of St. Agnes families visited the Baltimore National Cemetery to extend our expression of gratitude to some of the 46,000 veterans whose final resting place is located at this burial ground on Frederick Road. This expression was offered through the unique tradition of placing a penny on the headstone and then offering a prayer of thanksgiving for the life of that veteran.
Veterans Day at St. Agnes is more than merely a federal holiday. Instead, we use this occasion as an opportunity to learn of the experiences and sacrifices that our military has made for peace and justice around our world. The education of our students isn’t limited to the information that is merely found in our e-books or text books. Rather, we provide our young people experiences which are best viewed through the eyes of our faith as they are given a MODEL to living a life of heroic virtue. We are truly blessed!