FATHER CHARLES J. VANDEGRIFT
Memorial Day Speech
In the History of Saint Mark’s we have referred to
the flag-raising held at St. Mark’s on May 30, 1890, and to the speech Father
Vandergrift made on that day. Because of
the excellence of the speech itself, and because the sentiments expressed are
just as timely today (1943) as they were then, we are reprinting it here. It sums up admirably the ideals which have
motivated St. Mark’s in her 100 years in
Mr. Chairman, Gentlemen of the Council, and Fellow Citizens:
It is with pleasurable emotions, and a deep sense of
gratitude that I accept from you in behalf of the Roman Catholic congregation
of St. Mark’s,
In the child of today we must recognize the future citizen of our Republic, and it is our bounded duty to instill into the hearts and very souls of our children that love of country, the spirit of patriotism which prompted so many noble, heroic Catholic hearts to leave home and friends, wife and children, to break asunder the strongest bonds of love and affection, to advance to the front ranks and there to brave bullet, shell and canister, to even lay bare the breast before the cold steel of the bayonet, to die a painful death on the battlefield, or drag out a wearied existence in a Southern prison. On every battlefield of the Republic thousands and thousands of noble, self-sacrificing Catholic hearts bled, and poured out the last drop of life’s blood that the integrity of the Nation might be maintained; and when the conflict was most deadly, in the thickest of the fight, the gentle, kind, angelic Sister of Charity, could ever be seen silently picking her way amongst the dead and dying, on her mission of mercy, now staunching the blood as it flowed from some ugly gaping wound, or whispering kind words to hope, cheer, or comfort in the ear of some dying soldier.
Our country is doubly dear to us. We are her children, she is our mother, and I would have you members of St. Mark’s congregation be convinced of the fact, viz., that if you be true and loyal to your Catholic Faith, you will never be false to your country.
The early history of
Should we not be proud of our country and
Republic? The whole world knows that it
was a Catholic monk who inspired
These are the sentiments, the proofs, and the pledges of loyalty of the Catholic citizen, and to these he may exultingly give expression on this National holiday; when we extend the hand of fellowship to good men of all creeds and meet as one man on a common platform to commemorate the memory of the honored dead---the boys in blue, who fought so heroically side by side in defense of a Nation’s life.
Impress these sentiments deep down in the hearts and very souls of your children; teach them that to be good citizens they must first be good Catholics; that if they be true and loyal to their God, they can never be degenerate sons, false and traitorous to their country.