We are fast approaching yet one more pivotal event in the long and glorious history of The Ancient Order of Hibernians in America. I refer to the Dedication of the Commodore John Barry Memorial to take place on May 10, 2014, at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
The inspiration, impetus, and persistence to see this important undertaking to fruition must be attributed to two of our AOH Brothers, John McInerney and Jack O’Brien, both members in Washington, D.C. Early on, it was their interest, research, enthusiasm, and fundraising that became contagious in the D.C. area, which then spread throughout our organization, and has now brought us to this final stage in the realization of their dream.
What spurred Brothers McInerney and O’Brien on in their efforts was their perception of the need to recognize Commodore John Barry, native of County Wexford, for his idealism, commitment, bravery, and leadership. Indeed, all of these qualities must have also been quite apparent to President George Washington, who conferred on Barry the rank of Captain, along with Commission Number One in the U.S. Navy. As First Commanding Officer, Barry was gloriously successful both in battle and in the building our nation’s fledgling navy.
Clearly, all of this places Irish Americans in a particular context in terms of their early defense of the principles on which this great nation was founded, in terms their willingness to act and assume leadership based on those ideals, and in terms of the obvious sacrifices required of them.
Brothers, from the support and participation obvious at all levels of the AOH, it is quite clear to me that the Barry Memorial at Annapolis has not merely been “just one more Hibernian project.” It has, instead, become a quest on the part of our entire Order. So please plan to join us at the Naval Academy as we dedicate and celebrate on May 10th.