Patriotic Knights

Created: Jul 06, 2023
Category: General News

Councils and assemblies help their communities celebrate Independence Day with parades, prayer and more

By Cecilia Hadley



The Fourth Degree Knights in Brooklyn, New York, are not the only Knights to organize Fourth of July festivities in their community, but it’s fair to say they have more experience than most.

The Brooklyn Independence Day celebrations hosted by Long Island Assembly 703 date to the early 20th century , only a few years after the creation of the Fourth Degree in 1900. Nearly 7,000 people gathered in Prospect Park for the Knights’ Independence Day event in 1907; the following year, their July 4 program was described in The Columbiad as “one of the most successful occasions in the annals of the Order.”

This year’s 116th Brooklyn American Independence Day Parade was held a week before the holiday. Knights, police bands, fire trucks and vintage cars made their way through the borough June 25 after a Mass at the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help celebrated by Bishop Robert Brennan. The parade’s grand marshal was Army Lt. Col. Richard Szabo, commander of the New York Military Entrance Processing Station at U.S. Army Garrison Fort Hamilton.

Meanwhile, Knights elsewhere in the United States are preparing to express their love of country in a host of ways, from the prayerful to the charitable to the festive. Here are just a few:

St. Joan of Arc Council 1992 in Port Jefferson, New York, and neighboring St. Gerard Majella Council 7006 join forces each year for the Port Jefferson Fourth of July Parade. Between 80 and 100 Knights march as a group, handing out American flags to kids along the route, and then enjoy a beer and a hot dog together at the end of the event.

St. Jude the Apostle Council 16513 in Sandy Springs, Georgia, organizes a parish rosary each month that draws about 40 people. This month’s rosary, held July 2, was dedicated to praying for God’s protection and guidance for the nation. Members of the council who have served in the military led each decade, and the parish music ministry played patriotic hymns.

Ave Maria (Florida) Assembly 3862 hosts a bike and golf cart parade through downtown Ave Maria each July 4 that draws nearly 1,000 people. Knights lead families in patriotic songs and prayers for the country, and a veteran offers a reflection on freedom. A priest from Ave Maria Catholic Church then gives a blessing before young and old set out on their decorated bicycles, scooters, strollers and other wheeled conveyances. At the end of the parade, the Knights serve a birthday cake for the country and give away copies of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

Effingham (Illinois) Council 665 is hosting a Blue Mass on July 4 at Sacred Heart Church to pray for police officers, firefighters, other emergency personnel, and service members. After Mass, the council will serve coffee and doughnuts to everyone in attendance.

Prince of Peace Council 13457 in Hoover, Alabama, raises funds by offering families delicious food for their July Fourth feast. Members of the council work together to smoke more than 600 pork butts in the days before Independence Day. Sales of the smoked pork net about $10,000 for the council’s charitable work, including its Coats for Kids program and donations to local pregnancy resource centers.

Archbishop Nicholas T. Elko Assembly 2332 in Cincinnati, Ohio, recently began organizing a rosary at Gate of Heaven Cemetery on civic holidays such as Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. Faithful Navigator John Beckstedt expects more 60 Knights and other community members to join the Patriotic Rosary at the cemetery July 4. Each Hail Mary will be prayed for the souls in a particular state, and short passages from different Founding Fathers will be read before the decades.

The Arlington Independence Day Parade is the biggest July 4 parade in the biggest U.S. state — and the Knights of Columbus is the only organization to have marched in every single parade since 1965. Members of seven councils near Arlington, Texas, participate. In recent years, they have carried a retired military garrison flag, which is the largest size of flag used by the U.S. Army and flown only on special occasions. After the parade, St. Jude Council 6269 hosts a celebration with food and games for all the Knights and their families.


CECILIA HADLEY is senior editor of Columbia.