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McDonogh School’s 77th annual Memorial Day Ceremony on Thursday, May 25 was a solemn occasion remembering and honoring those members of the McDonogh Family who lost their lives in service to our country. Students, faculty and staff, trustees, retirees, and alumni gathered in silence at Memorial Court as the Upper School String Ensemble set the tone for the morning.
Head of School Dave Farace ‘87 gave the opening remarks and shared a brief history of Memorial Court and McDonogh’s Gold Star Heroes whose names are inscribed on the monument which stands as the centerpiece of the area.
After Alex North ’24 introduced the invocation, Director of Character and Service Bridget Collins '90 shared the story of Robert Eugene Cook, Class of 1942, known as Bobby to his family. She described Bobby’s McDonogh experience noting it was not unlike today’s students' “challenging academics… excellence in arts and athletics. “But,” she continued, “His senior year was anything but ordinary.”
Collins explained that in the wake of the December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, the US declared war on Japan and entered World War II. Instead of heading to Cornell University in the fall, Bobby enlisted in the Army and had 10 months of training before his regiment shipped out to fight the Germans in the Netherlands. After only a few weeks he was killed in action on November 22, 1944, at the age of 19. He is buried at a veterans cemetery in the Netherlands and McDonogh’s memorial is the only one his family could visit. Read the full story here.
As the gathering reflected on Bobby Cook’s story, the third grade, accompanied by the Upper School String Ensemble, performed When Angels Call Me Home. Then, Collins introduced the poem The McDonogh Uniform written by Eustace Glascock, a member of the McDonogh Class of 1879. She noted, “Its most powerful line, ‘We Give Something More than We Take,’ became the McDonogh motto. When Memorial Court was dedicated in 1946, Eustace Glascock was present at age 85 to recite his poem to begin the ceremony.” Then, Phil Stackhouse ‘65, and current students, Ava Jankowski ‘24, Libby H. ‘27, and Matthew P. ‘31 recited the iconic poem.
The 2023 Memorial Day ceremony concluded with Stackhouse and rising Senior Class President Matthias Miller placing a wreath at the monument to honor McDonogh veterans. After Taps was played, and the benediction given, the student body dismissed in silence as the Upper School Strings played Finlandia.
Throughout the remainder of the day, students and guests visited a display curated by military historian Butch Maisel ‘72. The exhibit included an extraordinary collection of World War II artifacts related to Private First Class Robert E. Cook, his unit, and the life of the typical American soldier.
Additionally, following the ceremony and in partnership with Greatest Good McDonogh, the fourth graders traveled to Garrison Forest Veterans Cemetery where they placed American flags at the markers of service members who are buried there.