by Rick Winterson
It was a joyful occasion – the Memorial gathering at the Thomas J. Fitzgerald VFW Post No. 561 on Veterans Day in 2020, and the unveiling of the Post’s 100th Anniversary Centennial Plaque. The Post was named for Thomas J. Fitzgerald, killed in action during World War I on July 19, 1918. He was only 24; he died just five short months after he enlisted in the Army.
Fitzgerald came from South Boston. A resident at 224 Gold Street, he was the only WWI casualty from his Knights of Columbus chapter, so his friends and fellow K of C members founded a Veterans of Foreign Post in his name. The Thomas J. Fitzgerald Post received its VFW Post No. 561 charter on November 28, 1920. Two Saturdays from now, that’ll be exactly 100 years ago. The Post has occupied its current quarters on Fourth Street (a converted firehouse) since 1932.
Led by its Commander, Thomas J. McCarthy, VFW Post 561 decided to observe the 2020 Veterans Day and the Centennial Plaque’s unveiling simultaneously – last Wednesday morning, November 11, 2020. This was not only fitting, it minimized any risk from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Needless to say, all participants in this event were fully masked.
District 2 City Councilor Ed Flynn thanked the police and city officials for supporting the Post’s 2020 observances. City Councilor-at-Large Michael Flaherty commented that this was a fitting way to honor all veterans. The Plaque, designed by sculptor Bob Shure, was then unveiled; Post Commander Tom McCarthy read the inscription verbatim, including Fitzgerald’s brief biography.
A Memorial Mass at St. Brigid Church followed, celebrated by the Post’s Chaplain, the Rev. Joseph White. Father Joe opened the Mass by praying for mercy on all deceased veterans – “so many men and women over the years”. His reading from Deuteronomy was followed by Matthew’s Gospel that says, “Have faith in Me. I am the Way …”
The next time you are out for a walk or to go shopping, take a short detour to 715 East Fourth Street and read the Centennial Plaque on Fitzgerald Post No. 561. It’ll be worth your time.