One of the greatest obligations we have as Hibernians is to pay our last respects to our deceased brothers. Those who have been our friends and mentors and have blazed trails for us to walk on in the years before us are ever deserving of our tributes and prayers at the time of their final Mass and their burials. Their families and friends, at their time of morning, deserve our presence as a sign of respect and honor towards our deceased brethren. On many occasions I have buried good friends, older Hibernians who have dedicated much to our Order. For the first time I attended the funeral and burial of a young Hibernian. Twenty six year old Shane Kelly of Pennsylvania Div. 61 was murdered as he protected his girlfriend during a holdup in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philly. Shot in cold blood – a senseless act. Shane was a rising star in the Hibernians. An energetic young man, Shane was very active in his division and well respected by his division members no matter what their age. As one Brother commented to me “Even as a young man, Shane showed great leadership. I would have followed this man into battle any time.” God Bless you Shane Kelly – may the Perpetual Light shine upon you, and may we all be better Hibernians after having you (for too short a time) in our Order.
I attended the book launch of Former Director (and newly minted “Life Member”) Pat Troy’s book titled “I have a story to tell.” The launch took play at Pat Troy’s restaurant in Old Town Alexandria and was hosted by General (ret.) Stanley McCrystal – the former commander of the U.S. forces in Afghanistan. A tremendous crowd attended and was treated to stories about Pat’s life, fine Irish music and a long line to get books signed by this budding author. I was honored to bring as a guest to the event; Irish Senator Mark Daley, who was in Washington representing the Irish Government on a number of issues including immigration and the new Irish Heritage Certificate. Senator Daley is Kerry man and a fine gentleman who was very happy to see the fine works that the AOH is involved with in the States.
On Veterans Day, I was privileged to attend a fundraiser for the Military Archdiocese of the United States. If you are a veteran, I think you realize the great works and efforts of Catholic Priests who serve in our armed forces throughout the world. Please consider making a donation of your own to assist the only archdiocese that serves worldwide yet has no churches for collections – go to www.milarch.org and click on the “Donate” button.
Over the past several months I have had numerous occasions to attend functions at the Irish Embassy here in Washington. On one such occasion I had the opportunity to attend a welcoming reception for the newly arrived staff at the Embassy. Six staff departed the post and only four have replaced them and will have to fill all of the previous staff responsibilities. These are fine Irish men and woman who will spend at least the next four years here as diplomatic core. I look forward to working with these professionals and assisting them in any way possible on behalf of the AOH as I can. Another occasion was joining members of the National Board and many AOH members from the DC Tri-State area to attend a reception hosted by Ambassador Collins and his lovely wife Marie in honor of OUR 175th Anniversary. We have a wonderful working and personal relationship with Ambassador Collins and the Irish Government and it was a nice evening to reflect on our 175 year history and to anticipate the great works in the next 100 plus years ahead for the AOH. During the reception we were honored to have Senator Leahy (D-VT) make a brief appearance to pay his respects to our Order.
The day after the Embassy reception, I joined Immigration Chair Dan Dennehy, Directors Jere Cole and Danny O’Connell, along with former National president Ed Wallace at the Capitol visitor’s center for a brief meeting with Senator Porter (R-OH) to request his support for some Irish immigration initiatives currently before the U.S. Congress. We as an organization are forging long lasting relationships with members of Congress from both sides of the isle to help our cause and need to work with many organizations to negotiate and get our opinion known.
I had the pleasure of assisting with Mike McCormack our Historian and Tom Conway from New York at the National Council for the Social Studies conference which took place at the Washington, DC convention center. For a short time, I helped Mike and Tom, these extremely dedicated members of our Order, with explaining what social study teachers should include Irish heritage and especially information about Commodore John Barry. In the category of learning something new every day, a woman from southern Virginia told me of ancient Irish writing (Ogham) carved into a cliff in West Virginia dating back to the year 600 A.D. – over 1000 years before Columbus. And from an article written by Mike McCormack a few years ago (titled America’s First Christmas Cards) this believed it to be the world’s longest Ogham message and dated it between the 6th and 8th century. This 3-line message, when deciphered, read, A happy season is Christmas, a time of joy and goodwill to all people. The second line read; A virgin was with child; God ordained her to conceive and be fruitful. Behold a miracle. The third line read, She gave birth to a son in a cave. The name of the cave was the Cave of Bethlehem. His foster father gave him the name Jesus, the Christ, Alpha and Omega. Festive season of prayer.