In the days leading up to Memorial Day, Loyola Academy honored alumni killed in action or listed as missing in action during a recognized conflict with the installation of a memorial wall and special dedication ceremony. The outdoor structure is located at the site of the school’s Foley-O’Donnell Athletics Commons, an open gathering space just north of Sachs Stadium. On it are displayed the names of 54 alumni across five panels, each marking a branch of service: Army, Coast Guard, National Guard, Navy and Marines. These soldiers served in World War I through the first Persian Gulf War.
A twelve-month fundraising campaign kicked off over Memorial Day weekend last year. School officials report an outpouring of support for the project.
“Loyola Academy has a long tradition of alumni attending our nation’s elite service academies and enlisting in military service upon graduation,” says Vice President for Advancement Bob Miller, himself a veteran. “This initiative brings to the forefront the bravery of Loyola Academy's alumni service men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice. The space we’ve created pays tribute to the alumni whose lives truly embody what it means to be women and men for others." Miller’s son, Seth Miller, a 2013 graduate of Loyola Academy, is now proudly serving in the United States Army.
At a ceremony that began under stormy skies and drew roughly 75 guests, Miller opened with these words: “Loyola has a long and proud history of service—service to each other, service to our families, service to our school, service to our faith, service to our country.” He went on to thank those whose support made this project a reality including Loyola’s President Rev. Patrick E. McGrath, SJ; Thomas M. Blake ’62, the primary researcher for the project; and the many staff members and donors who dedicated their time and resources. Miller also asked the crowd to recognize recent graduate Michael N. Chernik ’22, who is set to enter basic combat training with the United State Marine Corps in June.
Miller then introduced Loyola Academy alumnus and former Secretary of the United States Army Ryan D. McCarthy ’92, who spoke about service for others, responsibility and leadership. He shared similar sentiments with students at a packed assembly in the school’s theater earlier in the afternoon. McCarthy charted the course of his career from the halls of Loyola Academy, where he played football and ran track, to the senior leadership position in the Department of Defense. He captivated students with anecdotes from his time spent as an Army Ranger in the 75th Ranger Regiment and shared valuable advice, emphasizing the importance of mentors, respecting others, building trust, working on a team and acting selflessly. “The motto of this school means something. It’s not a bumper sticker,” he advised the students, who hung on every word. “When you take care of other people, they will take care of you.” He credited Loyola Academy with providing the foundation for his future path.
After McCarthy’s remarks, Loyola Academy President Rev. Patrick E. McGrath, SJ, offered a blessing: “Loving God, we pray you bless this memorial with which Loyola Academy proudly marks the ultimate sacrifice made by these Ramblers in service to our nation. Gracious God, we remember and give thanks for those who have given their lives in the service to our country. When the call was heard, they stepped forward and did their duty to defend the freedoms that we enjoy and to win the same for others.” Fr. McGrath ended with St. Ignatius’ Prayer of Generosity.
Next, guests turned their attention to the football field, where volunteer bugler Jim Reynolds had been standing, patiently waiting in the pouring rain for the majority of the ceremony. When it was time for Reynolds to play, Loyola alumnus and current parent Brian Stearney '89, father of Jake Stearney '23, walked out on the field and held an umbrella over him. Reynolds proceeded to deliver a beautiful rendition of Taps that moved the crowd despite the dismal weather.
A simple reception of light appetizers and refreshments followed. For alumni and friends unable to attend, a livestream broadcast was made available in advance, and the recording can be viewed here
Our sincere thanks to Ryan D. McCarthy ’92, Jim Reynolds, and the Loyola University-Chicago Color Guard.
Loyola Academy wishes to honor all of our Ramblers who have served or are currently serving in the United States Armed Forces. Visit our Ramblers in the Military web page for more.
In addition, a new scholarship has been established at Loyola to provide assistance each year for one or more students with a parent or guardian who is currently serving in the US military or who lost a parent or guardian serving in the US military. We hope you will consider honoring them with a gift to this scholarship fund.