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Nativity students thank vet on St. Joseph’s Day


The tradition of St. Joseph’s Day began during the Middle Ages when there was a severe drought in Sicily. In desperation, people asked St. Joseph, their patron, to intervene. They promised if rain came they would prepare a big feast in his honor. Tradition says their prayers were answered with rainy weather. In gratitude, banquet tables were set up in public squares and all were invited to come and eat as much as they wanted.

Students from Nativity of Our Lord School in Orchard Park display the thank you letters they wrote to their teacher’s uncle for his service to our country. (Photo courtesy of Nativity of Our Lord School)

It was also told to the Israelites in the Old Testament, “Go to Joseph” if they wanted a favor.

Many mothers during war years promised a St. Joseph Table if their sons came home safely from war. My grandmother, Bessie, was one of them. Her youngest son, Larry, who was 22 years old, was drafted by the U.S. government, and sent to war in Vietnam. Bessie prayed to St. Joseph for her son to return home safely from war, and in return she would provide a feast for family and friends in St Joseph’s honor.

Larry did return from the war, and Bessie kept her promise by having a feast on St. Joseph’s Day, the following March 19. Now, 62 years later, Larry has been invited to travel to Washington, D.C., to be honored as a Vietnam War veteran.

Elyse Booth, Nativity of Our Lord School’s third grade teacher, and I decided to share our story of St. Joseph’s Day and our Uncle Larry with our third and fifth grade students. With the help of Alycia O’Connor, teaching support assistant and director of the Maker’s Space, we all decided it would be a wonderful idea to write thank you letters and make cards thanking Uncle Larry for his service. This April, the letters and cards from our students will be presented to him in our nations’ capital.

Mrs. Booth and I are proud of our students for their thoughtfulness and kindness. We are sure their words and pictures of gratitude will be cherished by Uncle Larry forever.


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