A few years ago Peggy Patton ’68 and Laurie and Bruce Rollinson ‘67 (long-time outstanding MD educators) approached me with the idea of constructing a memorial honoring those in the Mater Dei community who had dedicated their lives to military service for our great country. From that kernel of an idea rose out of the ground the incredible Sentinels of Freedom Memorial Garden on Mater Dei’s campus. Last night, in a poignant and dignified ceremony, the Sentinels of Freedom Memorial Garden was blessed and dedicated by Fr. Steven. G. Sallot ’72, Vicar General of the Diocese of Orange and former Rector of MDHS.
The evening was incredibly solemn, but a very uplifting experience. We began with the presentation of the colors by the cadets of St. Catherine’s Academy and a truly beautiful rendition of God Bless America and the National Anthem by the MD Band and Honors Chamber Singers. Lt. Colonel John Flynn ‘95, currently the Senior Military Aide to the Vice President of the United States of America, gave a powerful and thoughtful speech on service, dedication, and freedom. Following John’s speech, our six Monarchs killed in action were honored with a scripture reading and memorial tribute. It was a fitting remembrance for those who gave the full true measure of devotion in service to their country. In addition, the 400 plus Monarchs who served in any of the branches of the United States Military Services (and whose names appear on the walls of the Sentinels of Freedom) were honored and recognized. Many were also in attendance at the event. It was very moving to witness them stand together to be acknowledged.
Fr. Steve then delivered a poignant prayer and reflection, which ended with a beautiful version of “Let There Be Peace on Earth” sung by Mater Dei Choir Director, Scott Melvin. Following the sprinkling of the Sentinels of Freedom Memorial Garden site with holy water by Fr. Steve Sallot, MD Band Director Fernando Martinez played a very moving and solemn rendition of “Taps.” The evening concluded with a special blessing for all gathered and all honored on the walls of the Sentinels of Freedom by the Vicar General, and then an incredibly stirring and emotional version of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” by the Mater Band and Honors Chamber Choir was performed. Nearly 500 were in attendance at last night’s dedication. It was truly a special and memorial occasion.
A heartfelt thanks to Fr. Steve Sallot; Helen Steves, Director of Campus Ministry; Erica Adams, VP of Advancement; the entire Advancement Team; Bruce and Laurie Rollinson; Lt. Colonel John Flynn; Director of Facilities Steve Ritter, Assistant Director of Facilities Luis Banda and the entire Facilities Team; the amazing Honors Chambers Choir; Scott Melvin, Kent Helwig, and Justin Miller; the MD Band and Fernando Martinez; to our incredibly generous Sentinels of Freedom benefactors and to all of the sub contractors who came together in a labor of love to construct the Sentinels of Freedom Memorial Garden. May God Bless you all and may God Bless, guide and comfort all of those named on the walls of the Sentinels of Freedom and their wonderful families!!
Enjoy a few photos from last night’s event below or CLICK HERE to see all pictures (Courtesy of Lou Collazo Photography and MDHS Advancement).
Patrick Murphy, President