The entire school community, trustees, retired employees, and alumni gathered in silence on Memorial Court for McDonogh’s 76th annual Memorial Day ceremony on Thursday, May 26. The solemn occasion, which remembers and honors those members of the McDonogh Family who lost their lives in service to our country, was punctuated by music performed by the Upper School String Ensemble and the Lower School Concert Choir.
Head of School Dave Farace ’87 began the ceremony with a warm welcome and shared a brief history of Memorial Court. “McDonogh is a community that remembers,” he said. After Aneel Ahuja ‘23 introduced the invocation, Director of Character and Service Bridget Collins '90 shared the story of Vincent Francis Kohlerman, Class of 1942. She said Vince entered McDonogh in the fall of 1938 as a ninth-grader. Although he found McDonogh to be extremely challenging, he immersed himself in the life of the school as an athlete and a member of the Glee Club and choir.
“The story of Vincent’s experience at McDonogh sounds familiar…challenging academics…excellence in arts and athletics,” Collins said. But his senior year was anything but ordinary. In December of 1941, Japan attacked the US Naval Base at Pearl Harbor resulting in the United States' declaration of war on Japan and entrance into World War II. “Imagine being a senior at McDonogh during this time,” Collins said. Vince enlisted in the Navy in December of 1942 and became a Seaman First Class onboard the US Aircraft Carrier Bismark Sea off the coast of Iwo Jima. On February 21, 1945, while taking part in the Iwo Jima invasion, the Bismark Sea was attacked by three Japanese kamikaze planes and 318 men lost their lives. Vincent Kohlerman was among those who perished. Read the full story here.
Following the interlude Fly Away, Home, Collins introduced the poem The McDonogh Uniform which was recited by Sam Wright ‘64 and current students, Brock Geoghan ‘23, Mia K. ‘26, and, Olivia R. ‘30. She explained that the poem was written by Eustace Glascock, a member of the McDonogh Class of 1879; and said that when Memorial Court was dedicated in 1946, Glascock was present at age 85 to recite his poem to begin the ceremony.
The 2022 Memorial Day ceremony concluded with Alumni Association President Josh Thomas ‘06 and rising Senior Class President Katie Jones placing a wreath at the monument to honor McDonogh veterans. After Taps and the benediction introduced by Amelia Gunsior ‘23, the student body dismissed in silence as the Upper School Strings played Finlandia.