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. ••

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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