The armistice (cessation of hostilities) between the Allies and Germany in WWI (then 'The Great War') took place on November 11, 1918 - at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Since that time, beginning with the declaration by President Woodrow Wilson in 1919, Armistice Day (now Veterans Day) has been celebrated each November 11th beginning at 11am. The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 am.
The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a Concurrent Resolution on June 4, 1926, and Armistice Day was created as a legal holiday by an Act of Congress on May 13, 1938. On June 1st, 1954 President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed Public Law 380 renaming the day Veterans Day, a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
The Department of Veterans' Affairs points out that many people confuse Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. While those who died are also remembered, Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor ALL those who served honorably in the military - in wartime or peacetime. In fact, Veterans Day is largely intended to thank LIVING veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions to our national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who served - not only those who died - have sacrificed and done their duty.
As Catholic American Citizens and Knights of Columbus, we should seek prayers of thanksgiving for our Veterans - and attendance at Mass is a particularly great way to honor those who have served. Prayers of healing for those who have suffered service-related injuries - whether visible, catastrophic, or invisible, is a particular charism of the Knights of Columbus' 4th Degree - especially through our Warriors to Lourdes Program. Be sure to take time out of your day - particularly at 11am - to remember those who have fought and to thank those who have served our nation in uniform and who now live with us as fellow civilians and citizens.
Remarks by State Deputy Tim Saccoccia following Columbus Day 2015 Mass Christopher Columbus Statue at the Church of Holy Rosary
October 11, 2015
Father Marchetto, Fr. DeRosa, Brother Knights, Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is a great pleasure for me to be here today, and on behalf of the more than 2,900 Knights of Columbus in the District of Columbia, I wish to express my deep gratitude to our friends at the Lido Civic Club for being our partners in this very special day. I also wish to express my gratitude to Fr. Marchetto and the Holy Rosary family for your continued and gracious hospitality and to Fr. DeRosa for taking the time today to celebrate the beautiful Mass. Finally, I wish to thank the National Columbus Day Association for their continued commitment to celebrating the legacy of the Admiral of the Ocean Sea.
Last week, the Knights of Columbus celebrated, not our official founding, but rather that night in 1881 when the Venerable Michael McGivney assembled the men of St. Mary’s parish to discuss the founding of a new organization of Catholic families who would stand united for the ideals of their faith in a hostile world. In this way, these working class men and their parish priest established an organization which exemplified what Saint John Paul II would call nearly a century later – the new evangelization.
But, for their name and their focus, these men looked back four centuries to a hero of one of the last chapters of the old evangelization – Christopher Columbus, the Christ-bearer to the New World.
Indeed, Columbus knew that a successful expedition would open new trade routes and increase the economic prosperity of Western Europe. However, he also knew that these same trade routes would open the way for the Gospel. It was for this very reason that, prior to his expedition, Columbus wrote to Pope Alexander VI requesting missionaries by saying, “I trust that, by God’s help, I may spread the Holy Name and Gospel of Jesus Christ as widely as may be.”
As Knights of Columbus, we too follow this model of our patron. That is to say that our service to our parishes and communities can provide great temporal benefits – we feed and clothe the poor, we assist our churches with various tasks, we volunteer at charitable events. However, in doing this, we are an example of what it is to be a Christian. In doing this, we are living as true agents of the new evangelization.
Four hundred years after Columbus’ triumphant expedition, and 10 years after the chartering of the Knights of Columbus, Pope Leo XIII recognized the important contribution of Columbus is his encyclical, Quarto Abeunte Saeculo, writing:
“…it is fitting that we should confess and celebrate in an especial manner the will and designs of the Eternal Wisdom, under whose guidance the discoverer of the New World placed himself with a devotion so touching”.
Let us then, Knights of the great Christopher Columbus, and all Christian men and women of good will, celebrate the example of Christopher Columbus, both this weekend and throughout the year, by placing our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, at the center of all our endeavors.
May Mary, the Star of the New Evangelization, and her blessed spouse Joseph pray for us and intercede in all our efforts.
May 13th is to put it mildly an “interesting” day for Catholics in general and my family in particular.
In 1917 Our Lady of Fátima first appeared to three children in Portugal.
In 1981 while Pope John Paul was entering Saint Peter’s Square he was shot at close range. In great pain, the Holy Father kept repeating, “Mary, my Mother! Mary, my Mother!” I remember the day well – it was my birthday! My wife also remembers it all too well, as she was in St. Peter’s Square that day and was a witness to history!
When he briefly gained consciousness before being operated on, the Pope instructed the doctors not to remove his Brown Scapular during the operation. He stated that Our Lady of Fátima helped keep him alive throughout his ordeal.
He said later: “Could I forget that the event in St. Peter's Square took place on the day and at the hour when the first appearance of the Mother of Christ to the poor little peasants has been remembered for over sixty years at Fátima, Portugal? For in everything that happened to me on that very day, I felt that extraordinary motherly protection and care, which turned out to be stronger than the deadly bullet.“
This painting says it all (a print hangs in our home):
Yesterday before a funeral I observed a little boy, probably no more than 4 years old interacting with the 4th degree honor guard. He saw them from a distance and waved big. When the Knights waved back, he ran to them as if they were the embodiment of his favorite cartoon characters. He stood in awe of them dressed in full regalia...all smiles. One Knight asked, "Do you want to be a Knight of Columbus one day?" Without hesitation the boy nodded vigorously.
I can't remember feeling that way as a child. I admit to thinking that their swords were pretty cool, but I didn't want to be a Knight. My dad was a Knight, though not very active. I knew many good men who were Knights. These men made pancakes and gave out tootsie rolls. That was the extent of my knowledge of the Knights of Columbus during childhood and adolescence.
When I was 18, my stepmother asked me if I wanted to be a Knight. I said no.
And later, as a young, single man I still had no inclination to become a Knight. Not that I was against them, I just didn't want to be one. I had no idea what it was to be a Knight.
While in seminary, the Knights of Columbus sent financial gifts to me and I was aware of their prayers and encouragement. I was grateful, but I still had no desire to become a Knight. After I was ordained to the priesthood, Knights from our local council kept asking me to join. I reluctantly said yes, thinking that I could just blend into the group without really being active. During this time, I encountered many good men; men who wanted to help people, men who wanted to make a difference in the lives of others; men who share common goals and common beliefs...men who make pancakes and give out tootsie rolls.
It was not until I was assigned to be associate state chaplain and Father Prior for the Kansas Knights of Columbus that I really wanted to be a Knight. What changed? I think I saw and experienced a bigger picture of who the Knights of Columbus are. In a society that is often hostile to men and fearful of healthy masculinity, I found in the Knights strong, good men. In a society that often tells men that they are not needed or wanted, I found men who are needed, appreciated and have a profound effect on the lives of others. These men love their God; they love their Church; they love their wives and children. They love their country. I saw this and I became like that little boy at the funeral yesterday. I am attracted to all that the Knights of Columbus embody. It was always there for me, it just took me a while to want it. (I'm not the sharpest crayon in the box.)
The Knights of Columbus have always been and continue to be a force for building up and preserving the Church, the Body and of Christ. I want to help Knights live what they profess. I want to help the Knights listen to the Holy Spirit and respond to the direction into which God is moving us as we continue to serve Him and his Bride the Church.
It is my hope to encourage our Knights toward growth in their personal relationship with God through daily, personal prayer. I hope to encourage those with broken or weak relationships with their wives and children to forgiveness and healing. I hope to help those who struggle with aspects of the faith to embrace all that is true, good and beautiful...the fullness of our faith. I hope to be a part of men helping men to truly be good men. I want to be a Knight of Columbus. How about you?