Something over two years ago, many of Boston’s movers and shakers decided to perpetuate the name of the Honorable Raymond L. Flynn, elected Mayor of the City of Boston from 1984 until 1993 and then appointed Ambassador to the Holy See – the Vatican – by President William J. Clinton until 1997. To accomplish this honor, the 30-person Raymond L. Flynn Commission was assembled; it was co-Chaired by Rosemary E. Sansone and Francis J. Doyle, Esq.
The Commission went to work immediately. To perpetuate the name of Ray Flynn might seem to be a task that’s easily accomplished – he’s already (and still) well known by most of Boston’s residents and those who work here. However, a substantive monument in Ray’s honor required careful selection, permission to make changes to public property, altering signage and listings, and so on. And so on!
And the Flynn Commission was highly successful. To use the local metaphor, “They hit one out of the ballpark – right over Fenway’s center field wall”. The Commission decided to rename and dedicate South Boston’s entire waterfront business, industrial, and transportation area as the Raymond L. Flynn Marine Park. The formal dedication ceremony took place last Saturday morning, November 12, at 11 a.m. in the so-called Gateway Park portion of Marine Park – now Flynn Marine Park. The renaming included the Raymond L. Flynn Cruiseport, where Boston’s visitors by sea disembark.
The dedication program was memorable. More than 500 guests attended; Rosemary Sansone emceed the event; her co-Chair, Frank Doyle, Esq., delivered a well-written keynote speech. An opening invocation was said by the Rev. John M. Borders III, the Bishop of Morningstar Church in Mattapan. Subsequent speakers included District 2 City Councilor Bill Linehan, Congressman Steve Lynch, State Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry, State Rep. Nick Collins, Melvin H. King, and Massport CEO Thomas Glynn. Then, Mayor Marty Walsh officially dedicated the Flynn Marine Park. The new Marine Park sign was unveiled by Ray Flynn and his extended family, after which Flynn addressed the crowd, thanking them all for such a meaningful honor. The dedication ceremony closed with a valedictory Benediction by the Rev. Robert Casey, Pastor of South Boston’s St. Brigid/Gate of Heaven Parish, Ray Flynn’s home parish.
Space permits us to capture only a few high points of what was said. Massport CEO Tom Glynn presented some very interesting port statistics, which are rooted in then-Mayor Ray Flynn’s “visionary” approach to the Waterfront. Over the last 30 years, dockings have risen to 115 ships per year carrying 300,000 passengers. Next year (2017), 150 ships – a full 30% year-to-year increase – are expected. It was heartwarming to hear Mel King’s remarks. He spoke of his book, “Chain of Change” and read a poem, “Love of Power, Power of Love”. King ran for Mayor against Ray Flynn many years ago. With his sharp-as-a-tack humor, King brought down the house when he said, “Ray, I finally concede!” Mayor Marty Walsh referred to the newly named Flynn Bridge across the Reserved Channel as the “bridge that Ray walked across to become Mayor of Boston”.
After he and his family unveiled the new Flynn Marine Park sign, Ray Flynn commented that the dedication was really for those who came to America through here, the Port of Boston, including his own grandparents, as well as those thousands who worked here on the docks. His own family had several longshoremen, who spent their working days along the Port of Boston waterfront.
After the dedication, a member of the audience said how glad she was that Sen. Dorcena Forry recognized Cathy Flynn’s hard work as Ray’s partner in life, both in his political offices and at home. And she recalled Congressman Lynch’s words – Ray’s connection to the South Boston Waterfront and the sea, as a member of a family of longshoremen, was very interesting to her. We often forget that South Boston, with its miles and miles of salt water frontage and some 3,000 waterfront jobs, is truly a marine community.