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Posthumous Citizenship ceremony for 28 Irish Korean War Vets


On October 30, 2003, the Office of Citizenship in U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS), a component of the Department of Homeland Security, will hold a posthumous citizenship ceremony for 28 Irish immigrants who died in service to the United States during the Korean War. This ceremony is the culmination of more than 25 years of public and congressional effort to secure citizenship for these fallen heroes.

The ceremony will take place:

October 30, 2003
11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Senate Dirksen Office Building
Room SDG-50
Corner of 1st and C Streets, NE
Washington, DC 20510

The Posthumous Citizenship Restoration Act of 2002 was signed into law on November 2, 2002. The law allows for the processing of posthumous citizenship claims on behalf of non-citizens who died as a result of their service in the U.S. military during a period of military conflict. The House posthumous citizenship bill was sponsored by Massachusetts Rep. Martin Meehan (D) and co-sponsored by a total of 74 Representatives including Massachusetts Reps James McGovern (D), Barney Frank (D), and Vito Fosella (R) of New York. The subsequent Senate version was sponsored by New York's Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) and co-sponsored by Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) and Lincoln Chafee (R) of Rhode Island.

The issue of posthumous citizenship status for the United States' deceased, non-citizen resident war veterans was brought to the attention of Meehan's office by Angus McDonald, the President of the Lowell Chapter of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH). AOH was primarily concerned with Korean War veterans of Irish descent. This effort was the brainchild of John Leahy, the founder of the organization Irish in Korea. John has been tirelessly working to secure posthumous citizenship for the fallen Irish soldiers for more than 25 years. The bill also garnered the support of three prominent national veterans groups: the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Non-Commissioned Officers Association (NCOA), and the American Legion. The American Legion will be the official recipient of the certificates on October 30th.

Attending the ceremony on October 30th will be:

* Approximately 120 relatives of the fallen soldiers from New York, Illinois, Massachusetts and Ireland;
* Senator Schumer (legislation sponsor);
* Congressman Meehan (legislation sponsor);
* Congressman Peter King (Co-Chair of Ad-Hoc Committee on Irish Affairs);
* Congressman Richard Neal (Co-Chair of Ad-Hoc Committee on Irish Affairs);
* Les Brownless, Acting Secretary of the U.S. Army;
* Eduardo Aguirre, director of U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services;
* General P.X Kelley, former Commandant of the Marine Corps;
* Noel Fahey, the Irish Ambassador to the U.S..