Medal of Honor recipient Ryan Pitts, US Army ( center) 25 year US Navy veteran Ed Flynn and former Mayor Of Boston and U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican Ray Flynn.
by Rick Winterson
OnSunday, September10, the 36th remembrance of the 25 South Boston veterans who gave their lives in Vietnam took place. A Memorial Mass was celebrated in St. Brigid Church at 10:30 that morning. The colors and the participants in the rededication of the Vietnam Memorial (the first in the nation) marched to the Memorial in MedalofHonorPark, arrivingatmid-day. Approximately200peoplehadgathered there to take part. It was fair and sunny. SpecialguestsincludedMedalofHonor recipientsRyanPittsandThomasKelley.
John McDermott rendered the National Anthem. Fr. Robert Casey, Pastor of St. Brigid Church, spoke the Invocation, during which he also asked for prayers for those caught in the ongoing hurricanes. Tom Lyons, Chair of the Vietnam Memorial Committee, made the opening remarks, reflecting back on the efforts to establish the Vietnam Memorial 36 years ago. Mayor Walsh then delivered his remarks, saying, “These brave men put everything on the line – always.”
Gen. George Casey, USA (Ret.), a native of Boston, was the event’s Speaker. He talked about his father, a casualty of a helicopter that crashed in Vietnam, and spoke eloquently of how fortunate America was to have such a generation of heroes. He also said, “America began the healing process after the divisive conflict in Vietnam, until we now trust our military more than any other organization.”
Gov. Charlie Baker told a story about the ongoing patriotism displayed by Vietnam veterans, who hold flags at veterans’ wakes and funerals. Congressman Lynch mentioned how much the people of Vietnam have come to respect the U.S., because of our 60-year quest to find and return the remains of American casualties there – 925 are still to be found. In a very nice touch, Councilor-at-Large Michael Flaherty chose three names at random from the Memorial to eulogize – John C. Calhoun, Devon M. Enman, and Edward M. Sullivan – a custom he intends to repeat each year.
The solemnities continued with medals being awarded to the families of those men on the Memorial, and commemorative pins being awarded to all Vietnam veterans present. Four Medal of Honor wreaths were emplaced for Michael Perkins, Frank Walker, George Nee, and all MOH recipients. Roses were then emplaced at the front of the Memorial, followed by a piped “Amazing Grace”. John McDermott sang “America the Beautiful” at the close.
The participants were thanked, the colors were struck, and the Memorial crowd quietly dispersed.