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Ceremonies pay tribute on Memorial Day

A year after North Catholic High School closed for good, its alumni association re-dedicated the Our Lady of Fatima shrine for graduates who died in World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars.

The Memorial Day remembrance started with a Mass at Resurrection of Our Lord Church celebrated by the Rev. Joseph Howarth, the pastor and a North Catholic graduate. The re-dedication ceremony took place at the North alumni association office at Rhawn and Fairfield streets.

The shrine, located in the back yard of the office, features American flags, flowers and a statue of Our Lady of Fatima, a title given to Mary for her apparitions to three shepherd children in Portugal in 1917. There are also statues of the children, Lucia and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco.

The two giant upright plaques include the names of the 250 North Catholic graduates killed in action — 199 in World War II, 25 in Korea and 26 in Vietnam. The World War II plaque was dedicated in 1949. The other plaque was dedicated on Memorial Day in 1968.

The Rev. Neil Kilty, a 1959 North graduate and the alumni association’s chaplain, offered prayers and a blessing. Alumni association president John Hanejko, Class of 1965, and James Creaturo, a Marine who served in Korea, placed wreaths at the shrine.

Meanwhile, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2819, at 6850 Martins Mill Road in Lawndale, held its annual Memorial Day ceremony. The lawn was filled with 836 American flags and white crosses, which included the names of all Post 2819 members who have died.

The flags and crosses were placed by members of Presentation BVM-based Boy Scout Troop 321 and Bethany United Church of Christ. A St. William Cub Scout troop wrote letters and drew pictures for Post 2819 members.

James Corcoran, a Roman Catholic High School sophomore, sang The Star-Spangled Banner. Mike “Johnny Guitar” Neri, a Vietnam veteran and Post 2819 member, sang Some Gave All, a Billy Ray Cyrus song that pays tribute to American military troops.

Post 2819 is also home to memorials to the 27 Cardinal Dougherty graduates who were killed in Vietnam, and to Frank King, a retired Philadelphia police officer who was shot to death in 1998 as he tried to stop an armed robbery.

One cross was placed in the Dougherty memorial to honor Army Pfc. John Kihm, the 19-year-old from Tyson Avenue who was killed in Afghanistan in April. ••

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