[Published in Irish Times on 29th Jan 2015 : http://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/new-group-set-up-to-honour-irish-war-veterans-1.2083983]
A new organisation has been established to erect a memorial and create an exhibition centre which will honour Irish men and women who served in the armed forces of other countries over the centuries.
Irish Veterans is a registered not-for-profit organisation which aims to research and recognise the stories and contributions of Irish men and women and their descendants and anyone claiming Irish identity who served in overseas armies.
Irish Veterans Joint Executive Director, James Sikora said that the group hopes to establish a permanent memorial and a research exhibition centre in Kinsale in Co Cork and they are actively seeking members to join them.
“It is incredible that the service and sacrifice of so many thousands of Irish people has gone unrecognised for so long. We need to ensure their sacrifices are never forgotten,” said Mr Sikora, an Irishman who served in the US army.
Mr Sikora, who lives in Rosscarbery in West Cork, says that the group are currently enrolling its first 5,000 life members whose names will be engraved on a permanent plaque in the research exhibition centre in Kinsale.
“This will be a veterans’ organisation with a difference, as our members are part of a global group of people who strongly identify with serving in the military, and having Irish roots. This is about connecting the Irish veterans still amongst us and honouring those who are not.”
Among the Irish Veterans’ ambassadors in the US is Dan Murphy, a Vietnam veteran whose son Lt Michael P. Murphy won the Medal of Honor for his courage in Afghanistan where he was killed in action in 2005, providing the inspiration for the film, Lone Survivor.
“We are delighted to support Irish Veterans in this worthwhile endeavour. In the Navy SEAL special operations community, our son Michael was known as the ‘fiery Irishman from New York’ and his Irish heritage had a very large impact on his persona and strong character.
“I am very proud to be named an ambassador for this important organisation and look forward to honouring my son’s memory and the memory of other Irish veterans by telling their story and commemorating them,” said Mr Murphy.
Mr Sikora appealed to people across the world with Irish connections to become involved in “this unique project as a way to connect with their peers and to honour those who have gone before them.”