Honoring Catholic University’s Fallen Soldiers

CUA students in uniform on steps of McMahon Hall, 1917. Courtesy of Lawrence Wright Photograph Collection, American Catholic History Research Center and University Archives

By Luke Cocci 

At The Catholic University of America we are the children of two nations, the Catholic Church and the United States. These two nations have dedicated themselves to improving the future, while always keeping the past in mind. These two nations are ingrained in our core identity. It is in this spirit that I seek to implore our school’s piety and patriotism to accomplish what I view as a meaningful duty. Compared to other schools our university is quite young, however, that does not mean that we aren’t without a history or culture. Our school’s history and culture is one of duty and service. This has been reflected for over a century and, God willing, will remain for years to come.  The student body has never shied away from this culture, but rather they have embraced it. At one point, the campus better reflected this culture of service and sacrifice, and I believe it should again.

The ground on which Curley Hall now sits had a name which is now largely forgotten. It once was an athletic field named after college athlete, editor, and alumni Edward L. Killion. While other areas of campus are named for people or groups who have donated large amounts of money, this one is not. Edward L. Killion did not have large coffers of which to donate sums of money to his alma mater, but rather he sacrificed his life. Killion a young man at the time, found himself serving God and country as an infantry captain in the United States Army. He and his fellow comrades of the 313th Infantry Regiment, 79th infantry Division were the last American soldiers to fall during the Great War. Killion joined fourteen other flag draped coffins which could claim Catholic University as their alma mater. In honor of these brave men of service a memorial was erected.

Sadly, this memorial no longer exists on campus today. The old Killion field is slated to be developed according to the school’s ten-year plan. We here at this school are and ought to be proud of those who came before us. Although the memorials established to commemorate the memories of these men may be erased, the effect of their sacrifice cannot. The Catholic University of America is a genuinely unique intersection of faith and patriotism and I believe that if we are to go in into the future we must always bear this in mind. It is our duty as Americans and Catholic’s to honor their memory.

Last year, CUA Homefront, a student organization devoted to supporting the veterans and armed services, and SGA passed a resolution calling for a memorial to be erected dedicated to all of CUA’s fallen. With the proper support of the student body this is completely achievable. As we move forward as a school and as a campus we cannot neglect our past, rather we should embrace it. We should attract new students and improve by embracing the values and character traits that our students have built for us. The same values and character traits that have carried Catholic alumni to success for over a century. It can start with this memorial.

 

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