By John D’Ambrosio ‘21
Combat and warfare have been a nearly eternal part of civilization. While most of us fear war, courageous men and women are still willing to sacrifice their lives in combat to protect their country and the people they love. During World War I, the Gold Star tradition was born. Families with a member in the armed forces would receive a blue star service flag. If a soldier in combat was killed, the families turned the blue star on the flag into a gold star, which became a symbol of remembrance for the patriotism and the sacrifice the soldiers made while safeguarding our freedom. In these acts of selflessness and valor, our Chaminade alumni lost their lives, and their family members lost their beloved sons and brothers, but their sacrifice made them the epitome of the Chaminade Man.
On Thursday, October 11th, Chaminade held its 74th Gold Star Mass. Accompanied by veterans and other men currently in service, the student body, faculty, Gold Star families, and the Class of 1968 gathered in the Activity-Athletic Center. The Mass is held every October to commemorate the sacrifice of these Gold Star alumni.
The Mass commenced when the bagpipers played “Amazing Grace” while the United States Marine Corps Color Guard lead the celebrants onto the stage. The main celebrant of the Mass was Msgr. Charles Fink, who served as a specialist in the Vietnam War before being ordained a priest at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception. As a twenty-two-year-old in Vietnam, Fink experienced many of the catastrophic effects of war. One event, however, proved to have a profoundly lasting impact on his life. While his team traversed the jungles of Vietnam, a mine detonated and killed multiple U.S. soldiers and injured dozens of others. This event inspired him to write a poem titled “Bury Me With Soldiers,” a heartfelt piece that focuses on the camaraderie of his brigade. In his homily, he spoke about this poem and his fellow soldiers who made the same ultimate sacrifice as the Gold Star alumni. He also mentioned the great honor and dignity that each soldier possessed. Although they barely knew each other, each and every soldier was willing to give his life for his fellow brother-in-arms.
Towards the conclusion of the Mass, students and family members alike bowed their heads with respect as the names of our fallen troops were read aloud. The strong presence of unity and strength among the entire congregation was palpable. Afterwards, Bro. Thomas Cleary, S.M. ’81 reflected on the significance of the Gold Star Mass and thanked the men who have served and all who are currently serving.
All of Chaminade’s Gold Star alumni are role models we should admire, not just in school, but in every aspect of our lives. Their honor, gravitas, and unforgotten sacrifice made them more than just Chaminade alumni; they are the models of the Chaminade Man.