By RAY FLYNN
The Port of Boston will forever hold a special place in my heart.
I’ve worked those docks. Watched troop transports and passenger ships pull out into the harbor. Our fishing industry calls it home. It’s also home for me — it’s where my grandparents came from Ireland searching for the American dream.
When I reflect on my life, going back 76 years, I could think of no better place to be named after than this cherished port.
When our parents and grandparents first arrived from Ireland by ship, it was South Boston they first stepped foot on. It’s where thousands and thousands of immigrants from all over Europe came full of hope and craving opportunity. They worked in the wool houses, cleaned fish and became proud union longshoremen, just like my father.
The work was hazardous and hard, but they were able to make a good life for their families. Their children received a solid education and the men served our country in time of need. Too many left this port never to return, but their sacrifices will never be forgotten.
They experienced hardships. They were sometimes sick, but never complained. They were grateful to their new country. They never gave up.
They were proud to work their whole life on the Boston Waterfront, later called Boston Marine Industrial Park. This was the source of opportunity for many, including my brothers, uncles and neighbors.
Yes, I have to admit that naming the Marine Industrial Park in my name is a special tribute. But I sincerely mean this when I say this honor is not about me, or my family, but for all those heroic immigrant men and women who came to America believing Boston was the land of new dreams.
They contributed to the building of our great country. They helped make this city great.
That’s who we are paying tribute to. They made it all possible. My father made it possible. My wife’s dad made it possible. They all worked the docks so we could have a better life.
Let future generations of Bostonians know about their sacrifice and the special history of Boston.
When I was first informed that our Mayor Marty Walsh, councilor Bill Linehan and the Boston City Council, state Rep. Nick Collins, state Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry, U.S. Congressman Steve Lynch and a special commission were recommending that the marine park be renamed after me, I was stunned, humbled and grateful.
I didn’t serve the people of Boston to have anything named after me. But if I had to choose one place, this port is that spot. It’s home. It’s where I belong.
Ray Flynn is the former Mayor of Boston and U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican.