honoring our veterans
In 1918, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day in
the eleventh month, the world rejoiced and celebrated. After four
years of bitter war, an armistice was signed by Germany. The “war
to end all wars” was over. In 1921, an unknown World War I
American soldier was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Similar
ceremonies occurred earlier in England and France, where an unknown
soldier was buried in each nation’s highest place of honor (in England,
Westminster Abbey; in France, the Arch de Triomphe).
These memorial gestures all took place on November 11, giving universal
recognition to the celebrated ending of World War I fighting at
President Woodrow Wilson first commemorated Armistice Day in the
United States in 1919, and many states made it a legal holiday.
Congress passed a resolution in 1926 inviting all Americans to observe
the day, and made it a legal holiday nationwide in 1938. The holiday
has been observed annually on November 11 since that date – first
as Armistice Day, later as Veteran’s Day – except for a brief period
when it was celebrated on the fourth Monday of October.
The day has since evolved as a time for honoring living veterans
who have served in the military during wartime or peacetime, partially
to complement Memorial Day, which primarily honors the dead.
This issue is dedicated to all the men and women of our military
who have fought for our country. I especially want to recognize
the troops that continue to fight for our freedoms and the human
rights of others in Iraq and other hotspots of the world. Our cover
story focuses on a World War II veteran, retired Rear Adm. Ferdinand
Berley. Dr. Berley served as a Naval Medical Officer during the
fierce, bloody battles of Bataan and Corregidor in the Philippines.
He survived the battles in the Philippines, but later faced the
horrors of life as prisoner of the Japanese military. Dr. Berley
was a POW for three and a half years. During that time, he lost
about 50 pounds and weighed a mere 110 pounds when he was rescued
in June 1945. “If it had not been for the atomic bomb we would have
all been killed,” said Dr. Berley in an interview. Just before the
bombing raid on Japan, he said the Japanese had issued orders to
kill all POW’s.
Historian Charles Gallagher, S.J., a former archivist of the Diocese
of Saint Augustine and now in formation for the Jesuits in London,
does a beautiful job of recounting the main events of World War
II’s battle in the Pacific. Our story could have filled many pages
of this issue! For a fuller read, I recommend that you purchase
Conduct Under Fire: Four American Doctors and Their Fight for Life
as Prisoners of the Japanese (1941-1945) by John A. Glusman. Dr.
Berley is one of the four American doctors that the book is written
about. His story and those of his comrades is gripping and serves
as a reminder of the toll that war takes and the sacrifices American
soldiers have made to help secure the freedoms we all enjoy in this
On November 11 – Veteran’s Day – don’t forget to say a prayer of
thanksgiving for the brave men and women of our military! – Kathleen
Kathleen Bagg-Morgan, editor