AVVBA Memorial Day Screen Shot 2013-06-01 at 11.38.52 AM

AVVBA Memorial Day

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On Thursday, May 23, the Atlanta Vietnam Veterans Business Association conducted a ceremony honoring Major John L. Carroll, a Marist alumnus from the class of 1958. The entire faculty and student body along with representatives from the military and Marist alumni, many of whom were veterans, joined Major Carroll’s family among whom were his mother, his two brothers (both Marist alumni of the classes of 1961 and 1968, his daughter and his grandson (who was named after his grandfather) for this special ceremony that began at 11:00 a.m. This is the fifth time an alumnus of Marist School who died during the Vietnam War has been honored in this way by the AVVBA.

Many individuals and groups assisted the AVVBA with planning for this event. All deserve our gratitude. Marist alumni Frank Cox ’59, Mike Walsh ’60, and Joe Bruckner ’62 deserve special recognition for their contributions which were significant and very helpful.

The ceremony included the unveiling of the Memorial Monument dedicated to Major Carroll which will be temporarily located in front of the Library (facing the circle) until it is located in the renovated Alumni Plaza after the construction of a multi-purpose building containing state-of-the-art classrooms, new faculty offices, an enlarged campus shop and a new Kuhrt gym. Construction is scheduled to be completed by the beginning of the 2014 – 2015 academic year.

“In honoring him,” commented Fr. John Harhager, S.M., President of Marist School, “we cannot help but be reminded that he has followed in the footsteps of many other graduates of Marist School who gave their lives in service for others in time of war. We know of 35 alumni who died in World War I, World War II and the Korean War. In the Vietnam War alone, there were seven Marist alumni who died in military service. The oldest was Clarence Stoddard of the class of 1944. John Carroll and his classmate J. Patrick Jaeger were of the class of 1958. There were four alumni from the first graduating class on this campus in 1963: Thomas Biddulph, Richard Fox, William Gay and Richard Sutter.”

Fr. Harhager stressed that serving others is not about being recognized but it is about helping others. “Marist School, from its beginning in 1901, has fostered the ideal that service to God and others is a core element to the formation of the whole person in the image of God. Our students and graduates exercise that service in a variety of ways and in various vocations. Service, we know, always requires sacrifice. In remembering Major John Carroll, we are reminded that some are called to make the ultimate sacrifice of giving their lives for others. All those who served in the Vietnam War also remind us that our service is not always recognized or appreciated by others at the time. That makes it no less valuable or significant. Service is not about being recognized – it is about helping others. Our Marist Way teaches us that service that is done in a “hidden and unknown” way carries a far more significant lesson than that which may be popular and well known.”

To view the entire ceremony, please visit: http://www.playonsports.com/channels/marist-atlanta-georgia/events/61738

This year, seven seniors will be attending the service academies. Jensen Caster will be attending the United States Air Force Academy (Lt. Colonel Chris Sodemann). Daniel Morrison will be attending the United States Air Force Academy Preparatory School (Lt Colonel Chris Sodemann). Hollis Davenport, Conor Byrne and Adam Steves will be attending the United States Military Academy (Mr. Joe Ward and Mr. Rich Heller). William Herbert will be attending the United States Naval Academy (Mr. Steven Skinner) and Graham White will be attending the The Citadel – ROTC Scholarship.

Fr. Bill Rowland, S.M., Interim Director of Alumni Relations and Chaplain to the Alumni Association, offered the following reflection and prayer at a gathering of the members of the alumni and special guestss that took place in the Crest Lobby prior to this ceremony. It was intended to pay tribute Major John L. Carroll ’58 and to all veterans who enjoy our admiration and gratitude.

On Memorial Day, we remember with heartfelt gratitude all of our men and women who have devoted themselves to protecting our nation and its ideals by their military service. We also remember those who serve today and who stand ready to follow in the footsteps of their fallen comrades should they be called upon to make that ultimate sacrifice.

This Memorial Day will be especially poignant because of what we do here today. In a few hours, the Marist community, including our current students, faculty, administrators and staff, parents, alumni, parents of alumni, veterans and friends of Marist will gather to pay tribute to one of our own, Major John Carroll of the class of 1958. Many of us will hear for the first time the story of Major Carroll and his heroics at the hour of his death. Outgunned and outmanned, he chose to defend his ground and, in turn, stood his ground for the values of freedom and justice that this nation holds dear. He has joined the ranks of thousands upon thousands of men and women like himself who have paid the ultimate price with their very lives for the freedoms we enjoy. Each one was someone’s son or daughter, someone’s brother or sister, someone’s grandson or granddaughter, someone’s uncle or aunt, someone’s parent or grandparent, someone’s husband or wife, someone’s classmate and friend.

Like the mother of Jesus after whom this school is named, those who knew Major John Carroll and continue to mourn his loss have had their hearts pierced, as if by a sword, every time they dwell on the fond memories of what once was and on the crushed hopes of what might have been. Today, this day, they will not grieve alone. The Marist community and our friends stand alongside Major Carroll’s family, friends, and veterans. We will share their sorrow and their hopes for that day when, as we pray in the Mass for the dead, “Every tear will be wiped away and we shall see you, Our God, as you are. [Then] we shall become like you and praise you forever through Christ our Lord.”

At the close of each school day at Marist, students, faculty, administrators and staff pause in thoughtful reflection and at attention while the National Anthem is played. In this way we honor all who have served and who do serve in the armed forces and especially those whose names are listed on the Marist School Military Service Memorial. We can only hope that should the day come when we must stand our ground in defense of what we believe is true and noble and good, we will do so in such a way that we will win the respect and admiration of the likes of Major John Carroll and those we honor on Memorial Day. Maybe then, we will have earned the right to stand alongside them whose courage and selflessness we will always strive for but rarely, if ever, fully attain.

Loving God, we ask your blessings upon all that takes place at Marist this morning. May the solemnity of this occasion, the kindness and tenderness displayed towards the family members, veterans and friends of Major John Carroll, the respect, and the appreciation shown for what he and his comrades sacrificed, lift the hearts of those who mourn his loss and dispel the clouds of sadness, if only briefly. In this way, may we experience what Zechariah longed for when he prayed, “In the tender compassion of our God, may the dawn from on high break upon us, to shine on all those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Amen.

Mary, Seat of Wisdom,

Pray for us.

Major John Leonard Carroll ’58

May 6, 1940 – November 7, 1972