Even while the world continues to deal with the impacts of a global Pandemic, time must be taken to remember those men and women who faithfully served in defense of this country so that all can continue enjoy the freedoms we hold dear.
The annual Diocese of Venice Memorial Mass held on Veterans Day had an altered format because of the Pandemic, taking place at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice for a small group of people while being livestreamed, versus an outdoor event at Sarasota National Cemetery.
Bishop Frank J. Dewane noted the difference saying a Mass at the National Cemetery was impractical given restrictions on the size of the crowd due to the Pandemic. This was the first time since the Mass began in 2010 that the celebration was not held at Sarasota National Cemetery. In the end it turned out to be fortuitous that the outdoor event was rescheduled to be indoors as Hurricane Eta chose Nov. 11, 2020 to strike the west coast of Florida.
“We may be a little bit wet, but the reason we are gathered together does not change,” Bishop Dewane said. “We are here to thank all the men and women who served, and continue to serve, in the armed forces for what they have done so that we can live as we do today. We also comfort those who mourn, honoring those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.”
Bishop Dewane noted that a veteran is called upon to do many things, as they proclaim liberty to captives, bringing glad tidings to the lowly and telling them they are free. Even when their active service is complete, veterans continue to give back to the community in which they live. At the same time, the Bishop said praise should also go to the families of those who serve, who make their own sacrifices in support of veterans.
Pope Francis spoke at an American Cemetery in Italy, a few years back, and reflected upon the vocation of soldiers as they are called to be both patriot and peacemaker. While it is sometimes difficult to do both at the same time, the Holy Father said soldiers are necessary in the world and their vocation allows virtue to flourish.
Ultimately, Bishop Dewane explained that the service of veterans for the common good merits tremendous respect for which we should all offer our heartfelt appreciation.
Members of the Knights of Columbus Color Corps were present at the Mass to bestow honors. The annual Mass is organized by the Diocese of Venice with support from the Knights of Columbus.
Dennis Warren, Past Grand Knight of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Council 13639, said many Knights, including himself, have served in the armed forces. This adds special significance to the annual Mass and is an important opportunity for the organization to join the Bishop in honoring all veterans.
“It is a privilege for all Knights to be part of this annual Mass,” Warren said. “While this year we could not all be together, this important tradition continues.”