By Patrick Markey
An Irish-born hero of the Vietnam War was honored last week by his former U.S. Army comrades at a special ceremony in Washington, D.C.
Lt. John Cecil Driver, who was 33 and from Dublin’s Ringsend area, won the Purple Heart for bravery in combat after he was killed in action when his patrol was ambushed in South Vietnam on April 17, 1969.
The Irish Examiner reported that Driver’s older brother Jim recently returned from the Vietnam War memorial in Washington, D.C., where he was presented with a special plaque in his brother’s memory by the lieutenant’s former commander, retired Lt. Gen. Harold Moore.
"On April 17, 1969, 1st Lt. John Cecil Driver made the ultimate sacrifice for this country, by giving his life so that others could gain freedom," Gen. Moore told the 5,000 people attending the ceremony.
Jim Driver told the paper: "I was overwhelmed. It was a very emotional occasion for me. I realized for the first time that he had not given his life for nothing."
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Driver said it was the first he saw his brother’s name engraved on the monument that carries the names of the 58,000 American servicemen and women killed in the Vietnam war.
"I touched the wall and rubbed my fingers along his name," he said. "It was very moving for me."
Irish people account for between one- and two-thirds of those sleeping on the streets of London, according to research by the Simon charity group.
The Irish Independent reported that the UK-based charity issued the findings last week after its twice-yearly head count of homeless people on the streets of London.
The organization found an increasing number of homeless young Irish people end up on the streets and called on the Irish government to take responsibility for part of a problem "that is not going to go away."
Outreach worker Brian Tobin said at least 60 percent of the homeless people they met were Irish.
"They ranged between youngsters of 17 to people in their 20s and 30s," Tobin said.
"Most of them emigrated recently. It’s unbelievable, it’s just like the 1980s again. They arrive in Euston and Paddington thinking the streets of London are paved with gold even in this day and age."
Charity representatives said many of the younger immigrants have similar stories — that they are fleeing either domestic violence or sexual abuse.
They called on the Irish government to assume some responsibility and direct resources to groups such as Simon.
After watching a popular Irish television show, an Australian couple decided to tie the knot in the church that appears on their favorite small screen drama.
Sweethearts Shane Rooney and Suzanne Lewis fell in love with "Ballykissangel" when the TV soap hit their screens Down Under.
So when they were deciding on where to get married, the choice seemed natural — Fr. Dan’s in beautiful Avoca, which is the basis for the storyline in the "Ballykissangel" program, according to the Bray People newspaper.
The couple arrived in Ireland last week to fulfill their dreams but were unable to tie the knot at St. Patrick’s Church in Avoca. Contractors decided to turn up the same week to start long-awaited renovation work. Instead, the ceremony went ahead at the nearby St. Joseph’s church.