Around Town:

Honoring our heroes

May 20, 2010|By Anita Susan Brenner

The past continues to fascinate. One-hundred years ago, USC broke with tradition. Between 1900 and 1930, at a time when most law schools did not admit women, the USC law school had 115 female graduates.

Sarah Elizabeth Patten graduated at the top of the Class of 1912, took the bar exam and was admitted to practice as a lawyer in the state of California. In 1914, she married Frank P. Doherty, a graduate of the class of 1911. Frank and Sarah Doherty moved to La Cañada and began their family.

They were a bright, happy bunch.

And then, two of their sons became local heroes.

John Edmund Doherty was born in Los Angeles on Feb. 7, 1919, and Joseph Connor Doherty was born on Feb. 2, 1920. Both graduated from Loyola High School and Santa Clara University. When World War II broke out, both joined the United States Army and served in the 41st Field Artillery Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division in Europe. Capt. John Edmund Doherty was killed in Italy, on Dec. 10, 1943. First Lt. Joseph Connor Doherty was killed in France on March 15, 1945.


Ten years ago, our daughter introduced us to surviving members of the Doherty family. Inspired by the veterans in our family, and after attending Memorial Day Services led by Don Hingst, Rachel founded Project Remembrance. Her goal was to install memorial plaques in La Cañada’s Memorial Park, with the names of our local war heroes.

The first two years, Rachel raised all the funds from private donations. As the years passed, the city committed to funding the project.

Every May, as Memorial Day approaches, we again are enticed by the memories. I think again of Rachel, as a 15-year-old, standing before the City Council. I think of the sacrifice of all the generations in all the wars.

I also think of this woman, Sarah Elizabeth Patten Doherty. She was a lawyer when few women became lawyers. She raised a large family of children and raised them well. It is hard to imagine what her sons went through, in the mud and grit of Italy and France. It is easier to imagine the telegrams from the war department. She gave two sons to our country, and therefore she gave them to us.

It’s time to mark our calendars for the morning of May 31, when Joe Puglia, assisted by innumerable Brownies, Cub Scouts and high school band members, will once again lead the Memorial Day service in Memorial Park.

Here are the names of our heroes. The abbreviations follow government protocol and vary between the branches of service.


La Canada Valley Sun Articles La Canada Valley Sun Articles