A long-forgotten memorial for an Irish-American priest who bravely tended to soldiers on the battlefields of World War II is being revived.
The triangle at Atlantic Avenue and 80th Street, at the border of Ozone Park and Woodhaven, lacks any mention of Father Lawrence Edward Lynch even though it was dedicated in his honor with a parade and celebration in 1949.
On Saturday morning, community members, historians and elected officials will gather at the site to remember Lynch’s heroic deeds and unveil a new marker.
“He really was a tremendous character,” said Edward Wendell, president of the Woodhaven Cultural and Historical Society. “I don’t know how we as a community could have forgotten him.”
Wendell said he stumbled upon Lynch’s compelling story while conducting unrelated research. He learned the young priest, who grew up nearby in Cypress Hills, took extraordinary measures during the war to help soldiers while assigned to the Fighting 69th.
Lynch ignored orders from military brass and jumped on a sinking ship to reach men who were dying. When comforting a mortally wounded soldier, who was Jewish, he shared a prayer in Hebrew. Sadly, Lynch himself was killed while helping others during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. He was 39 years old.
“It is my hope that the memorial triangle named his honor will serve as a small reminder of his brave sacrifice and that his legacy will live on forever,” said City Councilman Eric Ulrich, who sponsored legislation to rename the triangle after being contacted by the Woodhaven Cultural and Historical Society and American Legion Post 118.
The 10 a.m. ceremony is open to the public and will be followed by a St. Patrick’s Day celebration in Lynch’s honor at Neir’s Tavern in Woodhaven. Wendell said he would like to see a big crowd come out for the hometown hero.
“This is an opportunity to honor a real decent person who treated all people with respect,” Wendell said. “Maybe by bringing him back, we will bring back a little goodness in our society.”