Those Souls for Whom the Bell Tolls: A Memorial Day Reflection


Memorial 1


     It was originally called Decoration Day and was introduced on May 30,1868, just three years after the conclusion of the War Between the States, set aside for the honoring of those who had fallen while serving in the military forces, sacrificing their lives for the causes which they had dedicated themselves to in this grand land. 

   Thereafter on that auspicious day, the bereaved family, friends, and compatriots of the deceased would unite behind the local clergymen from the community and quietly process in a somber ceremony to the cemetery where their courageous beloved and fellow citizens lay. They would recite scriptural verses and decorate their resting places with flowers and flags in hand. 

     It symbolizes the fulfillment of a solemn promise to always remember what they had done in their selfless devotion to the call of duty. For the glory of God and Country, they set a heroic example that has been written into the pages of our history and onto the hearts of each and every one of us that came after. 

    How simple of a gesture it seems to be…to lay a wreath below a tree, or send off a twenty-one gun salute, for those whose days on earth may have been very long ago and whose lineage might have been misplaced or forgotten. Many left without notice, and without having their names inscribed upon walls, and entered the empty halls echoing with their silenced laughter. 

     Yet as the ceremonial shots are fired, and the marching brass bands play on, the bells that toll ring out profoundly as a clarion call in the stillness of the night, knowing that here on our sacred soil and on so many foreign shores, there are dearest sons, brothers, husbands, and fathers who had fallen in our defense. They need our prayers to assure them entry into the gates of paradise in the aftermath of tragic wars. 

   There, in sweet eternity, there is no earthly reason to fight for one’s rights with weapons of man’s design, but only to dwell on the Face of our Savior in the Palace of the Divine. This world is but a momentary trial that we must endure and withstand for but a brief while, until we meet our Maker in the sanctuary of the sublime. 

    As today we memorialize those who have given the ultimate sacrifice to secure our beliefs as a people who can practice our faith and worship as we so wish, we can pray without ceasing for their souls with the deepest of gratitude, and offer sincere sympathy and condolences to their loved ones who have stood mournfully at their graves. 

     They had to bid farewell to these precious personal gifts that God had given them, those who by their life and death have sown the seeds of liberty within us all…that will live forever flourishing from generation to generation in the hearts and lives of our children’s children to come, in the Land of the Free, and the Home of the Brave.  

 Eternal Rest Grant onto Them Lord, May Your Perpetual Light Shine upon them!



 Author’s Note:

     My maternal Grandmother’s brother, my great uncle Joseph A. Castmore, is a member of Our Nations Roll of Honor. He is listed among his fellow service men from his home town in Englewood, New Jersey who perished in service to their country during The Great War, World War I (1914-1918). 

     His name is engraved on the bronze plaque affixed to the 20 foot high Soldier’s Monument in the center of town which is also adorned with a life-size statue of an WWI soldier waving an American flag at its base. It is crowned with an Eagle at its peak, holding within its talons a cluster of arrows and olive branches symbolizing the country’s prowess in war and peace.  

   No one anticipated that within a relatively short time after the so-called “War to End All Wars” we would be involved in another terrible conflict: WWII. As soon as the early 1940’s, my grandmother would be seeing her own eldest son (who she gave her dearly departed brother’s namesake, Joseph) being sent oversees to serve in the army, and her youngest enlisting in the Navy. 

     Through the Infinite Mercy of the Good Lord and the intercessional Graces of His Blessed Mother, in union with St. Joseph and their family’s fervent prayers, endless Rosaries, and faithful attendance at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, both the boys were spared and returned home safely after the war’s end. My father also returned home through the prayers and Catholic devotions of his dear family after five long years.

By The Traveling Troubadour