Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Mary Frances Maher reflects on Memorial Day.
What does this mean for me who am a veteran? It is a day of remembering all of those soldiers who died for freedoms we might take for granted. I am sure many of us can name people we know, relatives, friends, who served and didn’t come home. This is what Memorial Day is—remembering that freedom isn’t free. It also means that we pray for all of those who gave their all.
I served in the U.S. Army from 1971-1976. All of my service was in the U.S. either going to school or working in a large hospital in the lab. I entered when I was 20 years old with the expectation to receive an education in lab. I did just that going to Basic Lab in 1971 and then to Ft. Hood, TX, for 8 months and back to San Antonio, Texas, Brooke Army Medical Center, for Advanced Lab for a year. I was sent to Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, Womack Army Hospital after Advanced Lab. After Advanced Lab, I attended NCOIC school for a month. There were two females and over 100 men in my class. I survived and was promoted. The closest I came to serving in another country was serving temporary duty at Ft. Smith, Arkansas, when Vietnam fell and refugees came over. I was involved with helping to do lab work.
I left the Army in 1976 at the rank of SP6, which is equivalent to an SSG. I finished my B.S. at Siena Heights college on the GI Bill in 1978. I came to the Convent in 1980 and the rest is history. One note I’d like to share is this: The Dominican Sisters in Houston are Vietnamese Americans. I discovered when they shared a video of their Community, one of their Sisters recalled being at Ft. Smith at the same time I was there. I still remember the video and how I felt and I was grateful to know of someone who had passed through to settle here.