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Talk, display make Holocaust very real at Padua

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Dialog reporter

Woman relates story of being born in China, which welcomed Jews during WWII when others wouldn’t

 

WILMINGTON — More than 70 years have passed since the end of World War II, but the memories remain for those who lived through it, while others who weren’t alive in the 1940s have taken an interest in that part of history.

Two such people were at Padua Academy earlier this month. Yvonne Daniel spoke about her experience as a young child from a group of thousands of Jewish people who lived in Shanghai, China, during the war. In fact, she was born there. Read more »

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Wilmington resident who survived Holocaust spreads message of love to Ursuline students

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Dialog reporter

WILMINGTON — Ann Jaffe is more than 70 years and 4,000 miles from her childhood in eastern Poland, but time and distance hasn’t dulled the memories she has of living in destitute conditions and in constant fear of death as a young girl. The Wilmington resident, a survivor of the Nazi-created ghettos from World War II, visited Ursuline Academy in mid-December to tell her story to a rapt audience.

Jaffe, now 85, and her family spent three years in detention or in hiding, surviving by will and sheer luck. Her hometown had a population of 1,200, of whom 350 were Jewish; of those, 32 survived the war. Read more »

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Priest-historian: 75 years later, Pearl Harbor remains ‘such a powerful event’

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Catholic News Service

A Catholic military chaplain and historian says the attack on Pearl Harbor, even 75 years later, continues to rivet the attention of Americans because it is “such a powerful event.”

Pearl Harbor survivors Clark Simmons of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Aaron Chabin of Bayside, N.Y., look at the water after throwing a wreath into the Hudson River during a 2015 ceremony at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York marking the 74th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Dec. 7 will mark the 75th anniversary of the attack. (CNS photo/Justin Lane, EPA)

Pearl Harbor survivors Clark Simmons of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Aaron Chabin of Bayside, N.Y., look at the water after throwing a wreath into the Hudson River during a 2015 ceremony at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York marking the 74th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Dec. 7 will mark the 75th anniversary of the attack. (CNS photo/Justin Lane, EPA)

As the anniversary of the Dec. 7, 1941, attack neared, Father Daniel Mode detailed the effect of the Japanese attack on the Hawaiian outpost.

“Before that, we were debating whether to get involved with World War II or not. We were basically a neutral country, trying not to get engaged in it. It (the attack) changed the tenor, and the president’s resolve,” Father Mode told Catholic News Service. “It brought our country together to fight a common threat.”

Speaking from the Pentagon, where he works for the chief of chaplains, Father Mode said he can see a parallel between Pearl Harbor and the 9/11 terror attacks.

“They’re both cataclysmic events that galvanized our country,” he said. “One was more obviously targeted toward the civilian population, one toward the military population,” the priest added, “but both certainly were defining moments in our country.”

As a child, young Daniel Mode lived at Pearl Harbor for four years while his father was on duty in the Navy.

“I vividly remember as a young kid — fourth-, fifth-, sixth-grade — going to the (USS) Arizona Memorial. As an altar server, I served Mass. It made a great impact on me. It was probably the seeds that were planted in my heart as I discerned my vocation to the priesthood. Pearl Harbor has made an amazing impact on my life.”

The lesson to be learned from Pearl Harbor, he said, is “always vigilance, to be vigilant. To use all sorts of opportunities for diplomacy, opportunities for peaceful engagement, to use all those opportunities ahead of time to engage with populations of other countries, but to be ever vigilant. We want to be friends, right? We have to have friends all over the world. But we have to be aware that not everyone wants to be our friend.”

Ordained a priest of the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, 24 years ago, Father Mode has spent most of his ordained ministry in the Navy Reserve, and the last 12 years in full-time chaplaincy, where he has attained the rank of commander. He’s now six months into a three-year stint at the Pentagon, where his work, among other things, includes collecting data on all the work performed by chaplains.

Father Aloysius Schmitt, the first U.S. chaplain killed in World War II, is pictured in an undated photo. He died during the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941 while helping others escape his ship, the USS Oklahoma. Nearly 75 years after his death, the remains of Father Schmitt, a native of St. Lucas, Iowa, and graduate of Loras College, were identified and came home to the Archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa, for burial Oct. 8. (CNS photo/Witness files)

Father Aloysius Schmitt, the first U.S. chaplain killed in World War II, is pictured in an undated photo. He died during the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941 while helping others escape his ship, the USS Oklahoma. Nearly 75 years after his death, the remains of Father Schmitt, a native of St. Lucas, Iowa, and graduate of Loras College, were identified and came home to the Archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa, for burial Oct. 8. (CNS photo/Witness files)

He took a brief break from that work in October when he was selected to represent the Chaplain Corps at a funeral Mass in Dubuque, Iowa, in October for Father Aloysius Schmitt, a chaplain aboard the USS Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor, who pushed a dozen men out a narrow porthole to safety during the attack at the cost of his own life as the ship was sinking. He was the first U.S. chaplain to die in World War II. It was only recently that his remains had been positively identified.

“It amazed me, too, that 75 years later, it would be an amazing occasion that gathered so many people together, but that it made national news,” Father Mode said.

Another heroic World War II chaplain Father Mode identified was Father Joseph O’Callahan, a Jesuit priest who was the Catholic chaplain aboard the USS Franklin, then a troop transport ship about 50 miles from the coast of Japan in March 1945, five months before the war ended. Father O’Callahan was awarded the Medal of Honor, the military’s highest honor, for organizing rescue and firefighting parties, leading men below deck to soak magazines that had threatened to explode, which would have catastrophically increased the death toll beyond the 800 who did perish, and administer last rites.

“He certainly comes to mind as a hero,” Father Mode said. “He did not die. He served, he went back to (the College of the) Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, to continue teaching math, which is what he did as a Jesuit priest. He is buried in the Jesuit cemetery at Holy Cross.”

Father Mode does not confine his historical research to World War II. For his master’s thesis in history, he wrote a book on Father Vincent Capodanno, a Navy Reserve chaplain who died while serving with the Marines in Vietnam in 1967, was affectionately called “the ‘grunt padre’ for his ability to relate well with soldiers and his willingness to risk his life to minister to the men.” “Grunt” is slang for a member of the U.S. infantry. The cause for his sainthood was formally opened in 2006.

 

Follow Pattison on Twitter: @MeMarkPattison.

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Veterans get hero’s welcome after visit to war memorials in Washington

By

Catholic News Service

MIAMI — Minnesota native and Key West retiree Raymond Blazevic stills vividly remembers being drafted into the U.S. Navy and joining 70,000 other recruits at a boot camp just south of the Canadian border during World War II.

He also remembers well serving in not only that war but two others — Vietnam and Korea, where he was captured after his plane crashed north of Kumsong, North Korea.

World War II veteran Carl Muscarello of All Saints Parish in Sunrise, Fla., and his guardian, Sandy Thomas, pose Oct. 29 in front of the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington, Va., across the Potomac River from Washington. (CNS photo/The Florida Catholic)

World War II veteran Carl Muscarello of All Saints Parish in Sunrise, Fla., and his guardian, Sandy Thomas, pose Oct. 29 in front of the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington, Va., across the Potomac River from Washington. (CNS photo/The Florida Catholic)

While his co-pilot was never accounted for, Blazevic was listed as missing in action and presumed dead in 1954. Later, he was awarded the Purple Heart, the Combat Action Ribbon, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Presidential Unit Citation and the Republic of Korea War Service Medal.

“The most interesting thing was that was I was with all the senior officers and they finally forced a lot of them to make confessions,” said Blazevic, 91, a member of Mary, Star of the Sea Parish in Key West, adding, “It took two years of negotiations and we were released.”

A career soldier, he then served in Vietnam in the reconnaissance squadron and more maintenance positions, “working seven days a week while the college kids were revolting in the USA because they didn’t want to be drafted,” he told the Florida Catholic, Miami’s archdiocesan newspaper. “It didn’t bother me that we didn’t have a parade, and I had a lot of work and was keeping busy.”

Blazevic finally got something of a welcome parade in late October. He was among nearly 80 veterans of war to travel recently with Honors Flight South Florida, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to transport World War II veterans to Washington so they can visit war memorials dedicated to American men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Blazevic’s son-in-law, John McMahon of Key West, accompanied him on the trip after reading about the program in the local newspapers. The program is designed to make World War II a priority and continue with veterans from wars thereafter, and the recent trip included a number of South Florida Catholics from all three counties of the Miami Archdiocese, according to local organizer Stan Bostic.

Most of the veterans were accompanied by a family member or volunteer guardian and were met by a long line of cheering well-wishers at the Miami International Airport upon their return from the one-day visit.

“They lined people up in a snake through the airport so that these WWII veterans coming through this procession line can finally be welcomed home,” said Bostic, who is an original founding member of the local Honors Flight program and a member of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Kendall. Bostic also serves as national director of communications for Rick Case Automotive Group.

According to Honors Flight, the World War II generation, often referred to as “the Greatest Generation,” is dwindling quickly as a group, with one such veteran estimated to die every 90 seconds.

In Broward County, Sam DiTullo, a member of St. Stephen Parish in Pembroke Pines, also joined the Honors Flight delegation, accompanied by his son-in-law, Tom Pattison, who worked for the military as a civilian for 30 years. A native of Beacon, New York, DiTullo was 18 years old in 1994 when he served during World War II, entering the theater of war at the beaches of Normandy shortly after the famed invasion there.

“He had never been to Washington and never seen any of these memorials so it was really exciting,” said Pattison of his father-in-law. “It is not that we ignored our veterans back in those years it is simply that not everybody got a ticker-tape parade; people came back and went back to their jobs and to their girlfriends, so this is great,” he added. “I love the whole concept and was really excited to be a part of this.”

Carl Muscarello, a member of All Saints Parish in Sunrise, recalled being drafted at the height of World War II and being assigned to ship repair units based in the Pacific and in Staten Island, New York.

“If President Truman didn’t drop the bomb i might not be talking to you today,” Muscarello said, recalling his years of service. “WW II was a sad time for me; six of my brother’s friends were killed. I was 15 years old in Brooklyn when the war broke out and I remember running home to tell my mother that the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. A lot of them did not come home, but i did my best. The only time i heard a gun go off when I was on a firing range.”

Muscarello, who was part of the Honors Flight trip, said he had been to see the war memorials previously but enjoyed meeting other vets. “One of the reasons was that I was invited to go was that many of the WWII vets are dying and they are having trouble filling up the flights since not many of us left.”

 

Tracy writes for the Florida Catholic, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Miami.

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