Memorial Day is coming soon. It's Monday, May 29, which also happens to be the 100nth anniversary of the birth of John F. Kennedy, the only Roman Catholic ever elected to the presidency of the United States. He was a naval veteran of World War II
Memorial Day began as Decoration Day, set aside to honor the Union dead after the Civil War. Eventually, the day was combined with one set aside for Confederate dead and became Memorial Day, now commemorating all who died serving their country
For many people in the United States, it's not just the weekend to crank up the grill and have a party. Many families, especially those affected by recent and current military operations, will visit cemeteries and put little American flags on the graves of sons and daughters, spouses, siblings, dear friends and even strangers. Of course, the military cemeteries will be covered with flags. But so will Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn, where thousands of Civil War veterans are at rest. And there will be flags at our huge archdiocesan and small parish cemeteries, too
One hundred years ago, the United States entered the First World War, which was expected to end all wars. However, it only created more conflict, particularly in the Middle East, when the British and French victors divided up what was left of the Ottoman Empire and created the modern nations where so many are dying now. Pope Benedict XV, whose pontificate (1914-1922) included the years of the Great War, was a passionate peace advocate but his pleas for peace and comments on the futility of war fell on deaf ears
Perhaps on Memorial Day itself, May 29, each of our families might stop, gather their children, talk about the futility of war, observe a moment of silence and prayer for those killed and maimed, then commit themselves to making peace instead of war. What a valuable family catechetical moment that would be