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Memorial Day – For All to Remember

Lest We Forget


On Memorial Day, we pray for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice:

Those men and women in service to our country who died to protect our freedom and the freedom of others in our world.
“All gave some, Some gave all.”


Memorial Day is an important time set aside to honor specifically those in the U.S. military who were killed in battle or as a result from wounds from battle. 

** See photos below of local ceremony; descriptions at end of this page **

Memorial Day is not to be confused with Veterans’ Day, the day in November the United States sets aside to recognize all veterans, not just those killed in war, but those veterans both living and deceased.  We can help our friends and neighbors learn more about Memorial Day through the many resources available online or by talking with families impacted by the loss of someone in service to our country.

Scripture teaches us of the corporal works of mercy, one of which is “burying the dead”.   That includes not just the act of burial, but the respect we give to how we care for the sacred grounds in which our loved ones are buried.   Cemeteries are consecrated grounds and we must remember this.  “Burying the dead” also includes the ways we can remember the deceased through prayer, and the respect associated and deserved for those who have passed and their families.  These teachings make Memorial Day even more notable for Christians.

Veterans of Duryea, Pennsylvania American Legion and VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) provide Honor Guard prayer service at St. Michael Cemetery in Duryea. This is an annual presentation on Memorial Day, held for decades.  This type of program is repeated by other veteran groups at other cemeteries throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania. 

It is difficult to have a concept of the number of lives lost in all wars involving Americans. According to government statistics, estimates are 498,332 (Civil War), 405,399 (World War II), and 90,220 (Vietnam) not to count all conflicts, declared or undeclared in more recent times, which bring the total into the millions.

And while we have the ability to visit our local cemeteries and get a visual picture of the flag grave markers (of all veterans), or see the marble tombstones at Arlington National cemetery, many fallen heroes of war are resting on foreign soil, near to the places they gave their lives.  An overlooked fact:  There are actually 26 permanent American military cemeteries in 17 countries where Americans are buried, all pristinely maintained by ABMC, an agency established by Congress in 1923.  Normandy may be the most well known, but there are other American cemeteries around the world.

Today, we see war in other countries such as Ukraine; people who understand loss of freedom, threats upon sovereignty, and past religious persecution.  But in reality, the world is never without the threat of war, or the fragile threats to freedom.  And while we may be celebrating, others elsewhere still live in terror, forced labor, genocide, concentration camps and prisons, and in suppression of their religious rights.  

As generations come and go, as the world evolves and our focus shifts constantly, we do well to stop for a moment.  Our first thought is thanksgiving to God for our freedom, free will, and the many graces and abilities he bestows upon us, of which we can do nothing on our own.  How fortunate we are.  In turn, we remember those who gave all to preserve the freedom we still have.  Inspite of differences and challenges, we give thanks as people of faith that our religious liberties are written into the principles of our nation by our founders.

Memorial Day can be a great time for fun and family gatherings, it is the remembrances that are the primary reason for the holiday.  Though Memorial Day is a government holiday, it is essential to us as Christians.  Without those who came before us, we would not be free to have diverse places of worship.   In practice, at each Byzantine Catholic Divine Liturgy we hear the prayers of petition chanted for “our government and for all in the service of our country”.   In this prayer we remember everyone — generations past, present and future.   We pray for wise leadership and for the future of our country.

Let us embrace the opportunity to proudly sing God Bless America.  We are blessed by God in so many ways.  Let us pray that God will guide the hearts of all leaders on the path of Truth.  And to put an end to war in all places on our planet.

God Bless America



The following are the names of those from St. Michael the Archangel Byzantine Catholic Church, Pittston who died active duty, during WWII: Sam Cigan, George Evancho, Peter Evancho, Peter Golya, Joseph Hetro, Nick Krivka, Andrew Kundl, Steve Kundla, Frank Legezdh, John Minzak, John Roman, Andrew Smutko, Frank Sovin, John J. Stegura, and Michael Whah.  If you are aware of any other members of St. Michael the Archangel Byzantine Catholic Church who died while in active military service, please contact our parish to let us know.  

Or if you have a complete list of those who died in active service as parishioners of St. Nicholas of Myra Byzantine Catholic Church, also please contact our church secretary. 

See also: Our Fallen Heroes

First photo: American Battle Monument Cemetery at Margraten, Netherlands where an international ceremony is held each Sunday before Memorial Day in honor of the WWII soldiers buried there. 

Center cluster photos: Ceremonial Remembrance by veterans from local Duryea posts (see photo caption) present prayers, present arms, and play traditional taps on morning of Memorial Day, 2022.  This is repeated at all cemeteries in Duryea Borough.

Last photo:  A section of the Moving Wall Memorial honoring the 58,315 men and women who sacrificed their lives in the Vietnam War. This “Wall that Heals” came to Swoyersville, Pa. June 2017. The town is the location of our sister parish, St. Nicholas Church.