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  Wednesday, September 17, 2014
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Lynch Receives Iwo Jima Day Award
By Rick Winterson

     This year, the 61st  Iwo Jima Day was observed on Friday, February 17, in a parade and ceremony sponsored and arranged by the Marine Corps League.  It is somewhat deceptive to think of a single day as Iwo Jima Day.  The battle for Iwo Jima actually lasted for more than a month.  The first 24 days were fought non-stop, around the clock  Seven thousand American soldiers died and the casualties totaled 26,000, in World War II’s bloodiest battle.  Perhaps the most famous war photograph in U.S. history – the six men raising the flag on Mount Suribachi – climaxed that battle.

     The Parade to the State House formed on City Hall Plaza in a light, warm rain.  The red-jacketed Iwo Jima veterans in the Marine Corps League stepped off at 11:30 a.m.  The Massachusetts State Police Fife and Drum Corps set cadence, joined by cadets from Madison Park High School.

South Boston’s Congressman Stephen Lynch was slated for an award from the Marine Corps League that day.  It was a bronze of the Iwo flag raising and was inscribed “Semper Fidelis Public Servant Award”  According to Gene Vaillancourt, Boston’s Commissioner of Veterans Affairs, it is a “well-deserved award”, after all of the political actions Lynch has sponsored and the seven trips he has taken to Middle Eastern hot spots (the West Bank, Jordan, Afghanistan, and four Iraqi trips).  Lynch himself simply said, “I really don’t deserve this.  It belongs to the veterans and those on active duty over there.”

     The ceremony took place after the Parade, in the historic Hall of Flags.  The Iwo Jima veterans had front-and-center seating for the awards.  These are gentlemen who risked it all for a cause they believed in 61 years ago.  They are all approaching or on the other side of 80 years.  When they were formally thanked, they received a prolonged standing ovation from the crowd.

     The ceremony was emceed by Marine Corps League Commandant John MacGillivray (a distant cousin of M.O.H. recipient Charles MacGillivray).  After the prayer and the anthem, a multitude of tributes were paid to the assembled Iwo Jima veterans.  Among the quotes were, “You are indeed the Greatest Generation”, and “Thank God for the Marines”.

     Lt. Col. Roy Osborn, USMC, a 20-year Corps veteran and pilot, was the keynote speaker.  He referred to Iwo Jima as perhaps the most significant single event in Marine Corps history, and he assured the assembled veterans that their example and their bravery still goes on in the Marine Corps.  He then presented each veteran with a commemorative medallion.  Vials of dark gray sand from the beaches of Iwo Jima were also given out to them.

     Congressman Lynch received his award from Commandant MacGillivray and Tom Lyons.  He thanked them, and in his acceptance remarks, praised the Iwo veterans for their “stunning bravery”.  State Auditor Joe Nucci then gave a “Gung Ho Award” to Mary Joyce Morris, for her many and varied charitable activities.  By the way, “gung ho”, which many think is a war cry, is actually Chinese for “work together”.  Warren Griffin also presented Tom Potenza with a “Semper Fidelis Special Service Award”.

     The ceremony closed with a benediction and a rendition of the Marine Corps Hymn.  A collation followed.



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