Ron Howko tromps across a rain-drenched cemetery beside a highway in County Mayo, Ireland. He stops at the headstone of Pvt. James Forkan and immediately notices a problem. The wooden pole of a small U.S. flag planted in front of the grave has snapped in half. “No problem,” Howko says. “I have more flags.”
The commander of American Legion Post IR-03 in Claremorris goes to his car, finds a fresh flag, replaces the broken one and looks thoughtfully at the burial plot of a young soldier whose wartime death was ignored for most of a century.
Forkan was one of 62 Irish-born soldiers and sailors who in 1922 were repatriated for burial in their home soil after losing their lives while fighting for the United States in World War I. They were initially buried in military cemeteries in other parts of Europe until their families, given the option, had them exhumed and brought back to Ireland. Once reburied, their associations with the U.S. military were disregarded, due mainly to Ireland’s conflict with Great Britain at the time, Howko says. The fallen troops received no U.S. military honors.
No flags. No headstones engraved with rank, unit or branch of service. No Taps. “Until The American Legion and the Mayo Peace Park got involved, these men laid for over 90 years in unmarked graves,” Howko says.
Read the rest of the story HERE.
I was curious about where the Peace park is located. It's in Castlebar, and appareently there is quite a ceremony there on Memorial Day. It include singers from the U.S. Here's the program:
Mayo Peace Park
American Day, Grave Rededication's / Wreath Laying & Presentation’s.
Guest of Honour Lt Col Sean Cosden, U.S. Defence Attache in Ireland .
Saturday the 25thof May 2013.
U.S. soldiers Grave Rededication. New Military Headstone Erected.
Depart from Mayo Peace Park at 12noon.
12.45pm start of ceremony in Burriscarra, Cemetery.
Private Patrick J. Scahill,
Serial number 1945430
Co.B. 16th Infantry U.S. Army.
Killed in Action 18th of July 1918.
Buried in Burriscarra Cemetery, County Mayo
2.15pm in Mayo Abbey, Cemetery ,
Full New Grave and U.S. Military Headstone
Private Martin Davin,
Serial Number 397938.
17thAnti Aircraft Battery,
Died of Pneumonia, on active service, 5th of October 1918.
Buried in Mayo Abbey Cemetery. 16th June 1920.
3.45pm Mayo Peace Park.
American Legion Wreath Laying Ceremony .
Mayo Peace Park committee in association with the U.S Legion Veteran’s Post’s in Ireland and the University of New Hampshire Touring ensemble.
Korean Government & Presidential Presentation will be made Lt Col Sean Cosden and a Korean Veterans group from Germany.
To the family of Cpl Michael Gannon, 15th Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, from Achill Island, who was killed in action in Korea, 13thof February 1951, buried in Bunnacurry, Achill. Certificate, Medals, Jacket & Tie Pin.
To Mrs Rita Brennan sister in law of Sgt Mark James Brennan, 78thAAA Battalion, from Kiltimagh,
Who died in a non-hostile air crash, whilst returning from R&R, to his unit at Suwon Air Base, Korea.
Certificate, Medals, Jacket & Tie Pin.
In respect of Private Thomas Carey, Supply Company, 115thField Artillery, from Bekan, Claremorris, to Mrs Bridie Hession -Culliney.
Signed by U.S. President Barrack Obama
Choir’s Performing on Saturday the 25th of May.
10.30am Cor Chairlinne.
11.30am Castlecomer Male Voice Choir
12 noon Oban Gaelic Choir
12.30pm Portadown Male Voice Choir
3.45pm University of New Hampshire Touring Ensemble.