People in the pews held fast to their rosary beads while pleading for the Blessed Mother’s assistance in heaven.
So, too, had countless military veterans in trenches, foxholes, transport vessels and aircraft before heading into battle.
“I can only imagine the comfort the Rosary has provided for so many military men and women when they were away from home, how scared they must have been, when all they had was their rosary and prayers to bring them home safely,” said Paula Dillner, secretary of the St. John Cemetery Association.
She spoke briefly at the association’s Veterans Day Rosary prayer service on Nov. 11 in the St. John the Baptist Chapel in Clear Creek.
About 40 people, including families with children, joined in honoring and praying for “our veterans, our country and community.”
“It’s important to honor our veterans because they fought for our country, and we wouldn’t be standing here if they didn’t fight for us,” stated Addi Vollrath, a fourth-grader at St. Joseph School in Pilot Grove.
“It’s important because a lot of people forget about veterans,” said fellow St. Joseph fourth-grader Jackson Inskeep. “It’s very important to remember them because they fought for our country and helped us get freedom.”
People from the parish processed the U.S. flag, along with banners representing veterans’ organizations and the branches of the military, into the chapel and placed them at the edge of the sanctuary.
Parishioner Jerry Hazlett, who fought in the Vietnam War, spoke of the origin and importance of Veterans’ Day.
He said it is “a day that was established to honor all Americans who have served our country in war and in peace.”
“They are both dead and alive, although this day is largely intended to thank all of our living veterans for their sacrifices made to a grateful nation,” he said.
Veterans Day is the anniversary of the 1918 armistice that ended the bloodshed of World War I. It later came to be known as a day to honor all people who have served in the U.S. military.
“Nov. 11 is now a day of remembrance, with parades, services, ceremonies and most of all to honor all of those who have served our country in any capacity,” said Mr. Hazlett. “This is during peace or war, in combat or support roles, all who have served honorably.”
Mrs. Dillner thanked Mr. Hazlett for his words and for his service.
“A lot of Vietnam veterans didn’t get welcomed home very well,” she told him. “So welcome home! Welcome to Clear Creek!”
Parishioners Jaclyn Inskeep and Joan Gerke led the praying of the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, devoting a decade apiece to the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the federal government, state governors, and county and municipal officeholders.
With each of the “Hail Mary” prayers, they pled the Blood of Jesus and His saving power over one of the 50 U.S. states and all of the souls living there.
Parishioners Jenny Lorenz-Redkin and Yvonne Kammerich led and accompanied the singing of “America the Beautiful” and other hymns.
The service closed with the processing of the colors.
Lifelong Clear Creek resident and parishioner Butch Twenter said he was impressed with the turnout and moved by the prayers.
Having served in the Army and been stationed in Ethiopia in 1970-72, he asked for continued prayers for veterans and the nation they served.
“I think a lot of the younger folks don’t realize how many freedoms they have and how those freedoms came to be,” he said.
He believes young people are being bombarded with the media and other influences that are undermining their moral foundations.
He credited his own mother’s prayers for helping to keep him safe during his overseas deployment. He noted that two of his wife’s uncles had been exposed to the chemical defoliant Agent Orange in the Vietnam War.
“They both passed away from cancer because of it,” he said. “They didn’t give their lives in combat. But actually, they kind of did in a way because they came home with this disease and nobody knew what to do for it.”
Jackson Inskeep suggested praying that all the current service members “will make it home” and that those who have served will stay healthy and at peace.
Mrs. Dillner said the St. John Cemetery Association, which also sponsors a Memorial Day Prayer Service, hopes to make the Veterans Day service an annual event.
The Memorial Day observances have been a local tradition since 2011.
“We have a local veteran speak, prayers and a remembrance of those buried at St. John’s since we last gathered,” said Ms. Dillner. “We have families share a memory and release a balloon in remembrance of their loved ones.”
The association’s monthly Rosary services in the church or in the cemetery usually draw about 30 participants.
When the weather is nice, people set up lawn chairs on the concrete walkway in the cemetery around the newly installed statue of the Blessed Mother, which was dedicated this past June.