On Nov. 1 and the following Sunday, Christians around the world celebrated All Saints Day, a major feast day that refers especially to Christians who have lived holy lives worth remembering and emulating.
In the New Testament the word for saint is used to refer to all Christians. The practice in churches around the globe is to remember those who have done good things in Jesus’ name in all times and places, and that we wish to be among those saints. We remember them to honor them and to be inspired to be like them in love and service to God.
On Sunday, Americans will celebrate and remember veterans who have served this country, putting themselves in harm’s way to save others. In remembering them, we may be inspired to be courageous and selfless in the service of others.
In November 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…"
The name was later changed to Veterans Day. With the approval of legislation on June 1, 1954, Nov. 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
On Sunday, houses of worship across the city, state and country will hold worship services and concerts to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day. A Candlelight Concert of Remembrance Sunday will be held from 4-5:30 p.m. at the Zabriskie Memorial Church of Saint John the Evangelist, 61 Washington St. The program will include “For the Fallen” by Douglas Guest and “A German Requiem” by Johannes Brahms (in English), and will feature the Professional Choristers of The Choir School of Newport County, the St. John’s Adult Choir and the Trinity Church Choir, with special guests soloists and instrumentalists with Peter Stoltzfus Berton and Giles Brightwell conducting the ensembles.
During both the 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. services at Emmanuel, we will hear from our Veterans Day speaker, parishioner and vestry member Micah Sybor. Commander Sybor is a 16-year Navy veteran. He graduated from the Naval Academy in 2002 and began his career as Surface Warfare Officer, responsible for maintaining, driving and fighting warships.
Micah completed two tours in Norfolk, Virginia, serving as strike officer, auxiliaries officer and ship's navigator. He attended the Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey, California, earning a master's degree in mechanical engineering. He completed his department head tours serving as chief engineer in San Diego and executive officer of a mine counter measures crew. Commander Sybor was also the commanding officer of mine counter measures crew FEARLESS.
He has been blessed to be stationed in Newport for the last four years, teaching at Surface Warfare Officers School and attending the Naval War College, earning a master's degree in national security and strategic affairs. Commander Sybor will be reporting to USS Spruance DDG 111 as the executive officer in 2019.
Armistice Day has an added significance for the community of Emmanuel Church. In 1921 the reredos and wall murals were given by Mrs. John Nicholas Brown as a peace memorial for Armistice Day in honor of the 90 members from Emmanuel who served in World War I. The reredos is a high extension of the retable above the altar and is made of carved wood or stone and is vivid in symbolism. It is a copy of the silver cover designed by Ralph Cabot Sturgis for a Bible given to John Nicholas Brown Sr. by his mother, Mrs. John Carter (Sophia Augusta) Brown. In the middle is painted the cross with the Agnus Dei, the Lamb of God, standing with the banner of the Cross of Christ. The inscription on the reredos reads, "It is great glory to follow the Lord, and to be received of Him is long life."
Carved on the back wall of the reredos reads: “To the glory and praise of God in thanksgiving for the bringing of peace out of the World War. In gratitude to the men and women who served their God and country this reredos and these mural paintings are placed in Emmanuel Church by Natalie Bayard Brown that their beauty may be an inspiration to all who worship therein. Dedicated on Armistice Sunday the thirteenth day of November AD 1921.”
The murals are individual panels painted on canvas by Robert Wade of Boston, depicting the canticle "all you works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord..." They include, not only the angels, but also the powers of the Lord: the mind, poetry, painting, philosophy, day and night, thunder and lightning, whales, cattle, squirrels, saints.
As with all our services, concerts and commemorations throughout our city this weekend, veterans and family members of those who served in WWI are particularly invited to join us in remembrance of the sacrifices made by those who have served and are currently serving in the military. We honor and remember all of them.
On a personal note, I want to thank Daily News outgoing editor Jonathan A. Zins. It has been my great joy and honor to work with Jon, who has always been so prompt, attentive and patient as an editor. I will miss him and wish him well.
The Rev. Dr. Anita Louise Schell is rector of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Newport. For more information, visit emmanuelnewport.org. Clergy Corner appears each week in The Daily News and online at newportri.com.