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Memorial Day: remembrance and gratitude

For Edmundite Father Raymond Doherty, Memorial Day is a day for all Americans to remember and pray for those in the military who sacrificed their lives in service to this nation. “We don’t want to forget!” he emphasized.
This year, Memorial Day is celebrated on Monday, May 29. It is a federal holiday in the United States to remember the people who died while serving in the country's armed forces.
Sometimes people who meet Father Doherty notice the Marine emblem on his cap and thank him for his service. “I doubt that most veterans expect that, but it is a thoughtful gesture,” commented the veteran of the United States Marine Corps during the Korean War. During 1951-1953 he received basic training in the Marine Corps at Parris Island, S.C., was subsequently assigned to Camp Lejeune, N.C., and served briefly with a guard company at the Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston.
Because he was trained in journalism when a student at St. Michael’s College in Colchester, he was assigned as a Marine Corps journalist. At the end of two years of active duty, he acquired the title of “combat correspondent,” though he “did not experience the horrors of combat and the deadly winter weather in Korea,” he said.
Now, Father Doherty assists in campus ministry at St. Michael’s where he is a trustee, a member of the board of the college’s fire and rescue squads and a member of the editorial board of the alumni magazine.
Father Doherty ministers to veterans currently on campus and has advocated for them on the Board of Trustees. “When I was an undergraduate student at the college (1947-1951), we had many World War II vets as fellow students, and they were wonderful models for us youngsters,” he said. “I would like to see that same or similar influence of maturity for our present young students and hope that more military veterans will choose St. Michael’s College for their continued academic education. We can all learn from them and their ‘real world’ experience.”
As part of its commitment to serving veterans, St. Michael’s hired Ken O’Connell last summer as the new coordinator of Military Community Services to help veterans acquire the tools for fulfilling futures by connecting them with an education. “I’m here to support anyone with a connection to the military with on- and off-campus resources,” he said.
O’Connell served in the Army, 2nd Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery Regiment based in Grossauheim, Germany; one of his duties was to patrol the East/West German wall. He served from 1985 to 1988.
After leaving the Army, he returned to school and has been a first-grade teacher and school enrichment coordinator and a photographer.

The military community at the college includes about 30 students; the diverse group benefits the campus community, offering tutoring, for example.
One of the programs brought The Green Mountain Chapter of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Project to campus. “This program allows veterans and traditional students to come together, share their stories and enjoy a common activity while teaching and learning new skills together,” O’Connell said. “These skills could have to do with fishing and in a large part have to do with kindness and community.”
Also, “we have strong ties to our community veterans service organizations that offer services specific to the needs of our current generations of veterans and their families,” he added.
For O’Connell, Memorial Day is a day in which “we can take time to slow down and think about where we are, how we got here and who do we have to thank that may not be with us anymore in this physical world.”
There is still a war going on, but he does not think the average citizen understands what that means for many people. “I know everyone has lost someone who has meant something dear to them, and we should all think of them, and on Memorial Day we need to give a special prayer, thought or burst of energy to the ones who have died and are dying for doing what they think was right for us safely here at home,” he said. “Just let your sons, daughters and young people in your charge know that this is a day of remembrance and gratitude as well as a day of celebration for these fallen heroes.”

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