Every November, Calvert Hall College High School in Towson holds a prayer service with the whole student body in honor of Veterans Day, school spokeswoman Danielle Hladky said. During the event, she said a staff member asks students to stand if anyone in their family has served in the military.
“When you see the overwhelming number of individuals who stand, it really warms your heart,” Hladkysaid. “You see how many people are really connected to the military.”
Now, to honor those connections and the service of alumni past and present, the 174-year-old Catholic school will break ground on a Veterans Tribute on Nov. 9, in time for Veterans Day on Nov. 11. The brick two-tiered structure will incorporate the American flag and symbols of each branch of the military, Hladky said.
“There’s a pretty strong tradition over the years of Calvert Hall graduates serving [in the military],” said Brother John Kane, the school’s president. “These are people who set aside their lives for a period of time … they did something in service to our country and it’s great to recognize.”
After not finding any more local wreath laying cemeteries last year and going to Bel Air to participate, a Baltimore County man has raised the money to place 3,500 wreaths at Dulaney Memorial Gardens with help from volunteers and Wreaths Across America.
Prevas said he wanted to see a tribute on campus because for veteran alumni, returning to Calvert Hall is an emotional experience.
“When we go back to the Hall, it’s a tremendous feeling of nostalgia and homecoming,” Prevas said. “Just to see a memorial somewhere on the school campus, it would be a really nice touch.”
Growing appreciation of military
Nathan Valencia, 17, of Eldersburg, will speak about his family’s connections to the military at Friday’s service. The Calvert Hall senior said being raised by his father, a Navy veteran, makes the school’s new tribute all the more meaningful.
“It’s incredible,” Valencia said. “I’m really for it and I really appreciate it.”
Valencia plans to apply to both the Naval and Air Force academies, carrying on what he said is a long family tradition of military service. He said he thinks young people like himself have a growing appreciation for the military.
“I think that it’s becoming a lot more recognized and a lot of people are starting to appreciate the military and what they do for us,” Valencia said.
Nattans, a National Guard veteran who served in the military for 33 years, said during the 1960s he was deployed to calm civil unrest across the country, including in Baltimore after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
During that time, he said, some people thought “to be in the military was a disgrace” and would spit and throw rocks at him.
“Now, to have people say, ‘Thank you for your service,’ is tremendously emotional for most military folks because they are sacrificing,” Nattans said. “To be respected for doing the job is extremely gratifying.”
Kane said that over the school’s 174 years, Calvert Hall students have been around for most wartime drafts throughout America’s history, and fought in everything from the Vietnam War to the Civil War (on both sides).