Letter to the Editor:

Raymond L. Flynn, former Mayor of Boston and former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican

Attending morning Mass on Veterans Day was always a great opportunity to reflect on the many dedicated men and women who served our country in the military over these many years. There is always something special about thinking and praying for our veterans, as we did yesterday, on the special day of remembrance.

Years back, attending Mass at St. Angela’s Church in Mattapan or Sacred Heart in Roslindale and then visiting the graves of loved ones and veterans on Veterans Day and Memorial Day was a ritual in my and many other families. We didn’t have a car in those early days, so taking the Franklin Park street car and walking down American Legion Highway was our regular route.

We would meet many people along the way that we got to know over the years. Many of them would be carrying sandwiches in a bag and holding an American flag. This past Saturday, I got to tell my wife Kathy, son Ray and grandson Jack Long some of the stories about how so many people visited these same grave sites.

This past weekend, in addition to praying for family and all our veterans, some of whom were also close family members, we joined members of the Catholic Action League of Boston in attending the annual Holy Rosary Service at Mount Calvary Cemetery in Roslindale for the 60th anniversary of the death of my political inspiration, Boston Mayor James Michael Curley, the “Mayor of the Poor.”

I was honored to be asked by Catholic Action League Executive Director C.J. Doyle to give some brief reflections about Mayor Curley to the faithful gathered. My family and neighbors admired Curley, I began. When I was a first-term state representative from South Boston and Dorchester, I filed legislation with other Boston legislators like Reps. Craven, Doyle, Feeney and Bulger to erect a permanent memorial to the former mayor, governor and congressman. The bill passed and the speaker of the House appointed me chairman of the Curley Commission. I invited longtime Curley political opponent former U.S. senator and former candidate for vice president of the United States Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. to offer some words of reflection on the career of his often mentioned rival, James Michael Curley. Curley had some powerful business and political enemies in the state during his career, and didn’t want to see him so honored.

But U.S. Sen. Lodge’s emotional and inspiring words of respect and admiration about Curley in testifying before our Legislative Committee at the State House, resulted in bipartisan support for a lasting memorial, statue and Curley Park on Congress Street next to Boston City Hall and the historic Holocaust Memorial.

So many great stories to tell. Boston has such a wonderful history, no wonder so many people from across the world wants to visit our city. And no better time to reflect on the values of our city and nation than on Veterans Day. It’s where it all began and continues today.

Raymond L. Flynn is a former mayor of Boston and a former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican.