Members of Boy Scout Troop 334 fold the U.S. flag Friday, Nov. 10, at the conclusion of a ceremony honoring veterans at Catholic Central High School, Burlington. (Photo courtesy of Catholic Central High School)

Marna Boyle traced her fingers around her late brother-in-law’s military photos on the wall of Catholic Central High School, Burlington, following the military honors tribute held at the school Friday, Nov. 10.

The school’s Wall of Honor Tribute included more than 60 local veterans, including Fr. Patrick J. Boyle, S.J., who served as a paratrooper and chaplain in the U.S. Army from 1961-75. He achieved the rank of colonel

“He was the most decorated chaplain in history,” said Marna Boyle, who attended the event with her daughter, Ellen Kmecak. “He was so handsome, and we were very proud of him. He also received two Silver Stars and a Bronze Star for his bravery in battle. He taught moral theology at (University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Illinois) for many years. He died at St. Camillus Home in the Jesuit community there last year and his funeral was a year ago today.”

Next to Fr. Boyle’s military photos was Marna’s son, Col. Gerald Boyle, who recently retired from the U.S. Army.

“Because of what is going on now in the Middle East, he is doing a lot of contract work,” said Kmecak, his sister. “I hope he can enjoy his retirement one day soon.”

To honor those who have served in the U.S. armed forces, the Catholic Central Military Honors Tribute included the Burlington American Legion Honor Guard and Boy Scout Troop 334. Also taking part was the school choir and band, which performed patriotic music. The audience included family, friends and veterans from Catholic Central families.

Army veteran and CCHS Principal Brian Shimon explained the ceremony was conducted in the manner of a military funeral.

“Veterans are foundational in this city. The center of our city features a beautiful building called Veterans Terrace. If you have been there and seen some of the tributes, many of the names of the people who have given the ultimate sacrifice — their names are carved into the side of that building,” he said. “Today, we can’t let Veterans Day or veterans week go by without honoring their sacrifices and giving our thanks to the people who are sacrificing right now because we have not gotten to a world that is free from turmoil. You just have to look to the Middle East to see that there is a need for peace and a need for freedom.”

Boy Scout and CCHS freshman Max Hazard began with a prayer before he, Skandar Larson, Life Scout and CCHS senior; Noah McCourt, Eagle Scout and CCHS senior; and Nate Robson, Life Scout and CCHS sophomore, provided a history of Veterans Day.

Guest Speaker Mike Olson, VFW Post Commander, described the origins of the Tomb of the Unknown Solider.

“On Nov. 11, 1921, the remains of the Unknown Soldier were solemnly delivered to the Arlington National Cemetery, which overlooks our nation’s capital. This late, great body was carried about in the same simple carriage that once carried the body of Abraham Lincoln,” Olson said. “The name is known only to God, and he was killed while fighting for his country in the trenches of World War I. On the 11th month of the 11th hour of the 11th night, that soldier was finally laid to rest on his home soil.”

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier serves as a reminder to all Americans that the cost of freedom is great.

“On Veterans Day, we take a moment to honor our veterans — past, present and future — those who served, who are serving and who are preparing to serve the nation in the days ahead,” Olson said. “One can see the handiwork of veterans who have done great things for their country.”

Olson said soldiers in George Washington’s army were leaders in the construction of the nation’s transportation system, including the Erie Canal. Veterans of the Spanish-American War were instrumental in completing the Panama Canal. The military men of World War II vastly expanded the nation’s colleges and universities. Others participated in building America’s freeway system.

“Every day in America, veterans are making significant contributions to our communities. Emergency medicine is enhanced by the experienced, skilled surgeons past and present who learned to save lives in combat support hospitals,” he said. “Our airlines are staffed with thousands of competent pilots who received their wings on active duty. Our police forces and firefighting units are teeming with veterans, and it is not just jobs they bring; they also bring commitment, work ethic, a sense of fair play and willingness to act as a member of the team.”

Those values are the core values of Americans in uniform who continue to refresh American society. Olson added that these great soldiers are committed to their mission and steadfast in their belief that their country and the world will be safer and more prosperous thanks to their efforts.

Following Olson’s talk, the VFW Honor Guard performed a 21-gun salute and Brian Shimon played “Taps.”

Teagan Yonash, Marine Veteran and Troop 334 Scoutmaster, led the Boy Scouts in a flag folding ceremony for a military funeral and explained the meaning of each fold.

Meaning of the 13 folds

  1. The first fold of our flag represents life.
  2. The second fold signifies our belief in eternal life.
  3. The third fold is made in honor and tribute of the veteran departing our ranks, and who gave a portion of his or her life for the defense of our country to attain peace.
  4. The fourth fold exemplifies our weaker nature as citizens trusting in God; it is to him we turn for his divine guidance.
  5. The fifth fold is an acknowledgment of our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, “Our country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right, but it is still our country, right or wrong.”
  6. The sixth fold is for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
  7. The seventh fold is a tribute to our armed forces, for it is through the armed forces that we protect our country and our flag against all enemies.
  8. The eighth fold is a tribute to the one who entered the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day, and to honor our mother, for whom it flies on Mother’s Day.
  9. The ninth fold is an honor to womanhood, for it has been through their faith, love, loyalty, and devotion that the character of men and women who have made this country great have been molded.
  10. The 10th fold is a tribute to father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since he or she was first born.
  11. The 11th fold, in the eyes of Hebrew citizens, represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies, in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
  12. The 12th fold, in the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
  13. The last fold, when the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our national motto, “In God We Trust.”