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Senate moves on Korean War citizenship bill

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Ray O’Hanlon

A resolution has been introduced in the U.S. Senate aimed at securing posthumous citizenship for a group of Irish nationals who were killed in the Korean War but never made U.S. citizens.

Senate Resolution 1859 has been introduced by Sen. Charles Schumer of New York and co-sponsored by the GOP’s Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island.

It proposes to extend the existing deadline for the granting of posthumous citizenship for individuals killed while serving in the U.S. armed forces. The resolution is now before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The Senate resolution is a companion to an existing House of Representatives bill, which is also intended to secure citizenship for more than 20 Irishmen who died in U.S. uniform in the 1950-53 conflict but who were never conferred with citizenship.

The House Bill, the Posthumous Citizenship Restoration Act of 2001, is co-authored by Reps. Martin Meehan and James McGovern, both of Massachusetts.

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The bill currently has more than 60 co-sponsors and an effort was being stepped up this week to place the bill, H.R. 2623, on the House suspension calendar, a device used to pass legislation deemed uncontroversial.

Meanwhile, the service and sacrifice of Irishmen in the Korean War was commemorated at St. Patrick’s Cathedral last weekend.

More than 250 people attended the a concelebrated Mass, which took place 50 years to the day after a similar event marked the return of the bodies of nine Irish-born U.S. soldiers to New York in 1952.

The mass of remembrance was organized by Local 608 of the Carpenter’s Union and was attended by Korea veterans Pat Boyle, John Jennings, Christy Keegan, Mike Moffat, John Driscoll, Jim Higgins, John Flannery, Sean Finn and Barney Mulligan.

Fr. Patrick Doody of the Holy Ghost Fathers celebrated the Mass with co-celebrant Fr. Brian Grogan, the new chaplain of the Fire Dept. of New York.

In his homily, Doody spoke of the young immigrants who “were drafted to fight a war they did not understand and for a country of which they were not citizens. Yet they boldly and bravely gave their lives in the pursuit of justice and freedom.”

The roll call for all the military and religious personnel was read by veteran Jim O’Mahoney.

A website has been set up to support the posthumous citizenship campaign. It is at www.irishinkorea.org.

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