OLA recognizes first responders in special anniversary Mass
Law enforcement officers, firefighters, military, and other emergency personnel gathered on the steps of Claremont’s Our Lady of the Assumption Friday morning to be honored at the school’s annual Blue Mass, recognizing the service of our country’s first responders.
The Blue Mass, which always falls on the Friday leading up to 9/11, remembers those who lost their lives to protect the country that day while giving thanks to those in the community who continue to serve.
“The mass is central to our faith and 9/11 needed that level of recognition”, said Principal Bernadette Boyle. “Having the physical presence of those serving in our community here with us makes it that much more powerful to [the students.]”
The Blue Mass is a tradition that began 3 years ago, teaching the O.L.A. students about an event that, despite many of them being too young to remember, still resonates in their lives.
“Though most are too young to remember, 9/11 is a historical event for them and having a mass like this makes that sacrifice made 10 years ago more real for them,” Ms. Boyle said.
A small memorial for 1969 graduate Lt. Col. Neil Hyland, placed by a flagpole on the outskirts of the school’s campus, is an additional reminder of how the tragedy hits home for O.L.A. families. Lt. Col. Hyland was killed at the Pentagon in the 9/11 attacks.
Despite the fact that many of the students were toddlers at the time of the tragedies, the meaning of the attacks and the pride over local servicemen has not been lost on the students.
“It’s like the Titanic...it’s one of those moments people will never forget,” said Eighth Grader Noah Swiatek. “You still have to show respect for what happened that day.”
O.L.A. students proudly stood by their parents decked out in their crisp uniforms and polished badges, brimming with pride as they were filed down the church’s center aisle for the anticipating parishioners inside.
“I’m really glad he’s here...I’m proud of what he does,” said Eight Grader Matt Juarez, son of RJ Juarez, a Los Angeles Sheriff.
Kevin Ishida, of the Los Angeles police department’s air support division, practically pulled an all-nighter just to make it down to the church to for his 2nd grade daughter, who begged her dad to be a part of the mass.
Being present at the mass in uniform, if only for an hour, is worth the lack of sleep, said Mr. Ishida.
“It’s important to be here to show them that we care… about them and about our community,” Mr. Ishida said. “It makes her so excited for me to be here in my uniform, and that means everything to me.”