National President Seamus Boyle was a featured speaker at the unveiling of a new wayside marker at the statue of Commodore John Barry in Franklin Park, Washington, DC, on May 4. Although the statue has been standing since its dedication by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914, there has been no interpretive marker to explain to the public who Commodore John Barry was and why he is important today. The Naval Order of the United States embarked on an effort to have a ceramic information marker placed to the side of the statue. Leading the effort for the Naval Order was AOH Brother Captain John Rodgaard, USN, and a member of the Commodore John Barry Division in the District of Columbia.
President Boyle noted in his remarks that “Ninety Eight years ago, my predecessor, AOH President James Regan, stood here for the unveiling of this monument.” The Ancient Order of Hibernians was the leading force in having the statue placed in Franklin Park. The statue was created by sculptor John J. Boyle on a commission from the Ancient Order of Hibernians and other patriotic American groups of Irish descent.
The AOH president pointed out that “both Houses of Congress had a special adjournment for the occasion and gathered at this park were no less than 50,000 spectators. These included President Wilson, members of Congress, Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels – who presided over the ceremony – along with hundreds of leading officials of the government and the diplomatic corps.” The AOH National newspaper, in June of 1914, described the dedication ceremony as follows: “Standing majestically on its beautiful site in Franklin Park, surrounded with trees, flowers, shrubs, and directly facing one of the most frequented thoroughfares of the national Capital, the monument to Commodore John Barry, Father of the American Navy, now forms one of the most attractive memorials of the many which adorn the public parks of the Capital City.” President Boyle closed with a quote from President Wilson’s speech during the dedication: “This man is not an Irish-American; he was an Irishman that became an American.”
Boyle acknowledged the presence of other Hibernians at the ceremony, including National Director Keith Carney, Brother Ralph Day (President of the DC State Board and the Commodore John Barry Division), Brothers Jack O’Brien and John McInerney (leaders of our efforts to erect the Barry memorial at the Naval Academy) and Brother Brian Curran (President of the John Carroll of Carrollton Division). Following the ceremony there was a reception onboard the display ship (Former U.S. Destroyer) Barry (DD933) berthed at the Washington Navy Yard. During that reception the Gilbert Stewart painting of Commodore John Barry was on display. It is a truly remarkable painting.