Today’s Memorial Day Message is written by Marco Valera, Vice President for Administration. 

Dear Fordham Community,

As we commemorate Memorial Day with our families and friends, we should remember the meaning of this day beyond the barbecues and festive gatherings. This day is a solemn occasion honoring the brave veterans who have laid down their lives in service to our nation—“the last full measure of devotion,” in President Lincoln’s phrase. It is a time to reflect and acknowledge their courage and commitment, and to express our deepest gratitude for their ultimate sacrifice. 

Among these heroes, we remember our own with special reverence: the many veterans of the Fordham community, including distinguished Medal of Honor recipients. One exemplary recipient is Navy Lieutenant Vincent Robert Capodanno Jr., FCRH ’52, a Catholic priest, Maryknoll missionary, and Navy chaplain, who served with valor and distinction during the Vietnam War. 

On September 4, 1967, in the face of withering enemy fire, Father Capodanno, while mortally wounded, demonstrated extraordinary heroism and selflessness as he administered medical aid and last rites to his wounded and dying marines. For his actions, our nation posthumously awarded him the Medal of Honor, the highest military honor, a testament to his bravery and devotion. The Catholic Church has declared him a Servant of God, the first step to canonization as a saint.

The legacy of individuals like Father Capodanno serves as a powerful reminder of the values we hold dear: courage, selflessness, love for one another, and unwavering commitment to the greater good. Their stories are not just a part of our history; they shape our identity and live in our collective memory. As we honor these heroes, let us also renew our dedication to the principles they fought to protect. 

On this Memorial Day, I encourage each of you to take a moment to remember and honor our fallen service members. Reflect on their sacrifices, share their stories, and ensure that their legacy lives on. Let their courage inspire us to strive for a better, more just and equitable world, and let their memory be a guiding light for future generations. 

In gratitude and remembrance, 
Marco Antonio Valera 
Vice President for Administration
Commander, United States Navy, Retired