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JFK Remembered by Ancient Order of Hibernians

Every year members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) honor Former President John F. Kennedy’s passing on Nov. 22 the day he was assassinated in 1963.

This year, like many in the past, the group went to the JFK Monument at Walnut Hill Park to say a few words in the former president’s memory and lay wreaths.

AOH member John Higgins led the ceremony of Kennedy’s 51st commemoration.

“We feel this is our contribution of keeping the eternal flame from going dim,” said Higgins. “Last year was the most memorable for historical reasons, but this year is equally important.

This is the 50th year this memorial has been installed by the City of New Britain. It was one of the first to honor JFK in the country.

“It also marks the beginning of the AOH,” said Higgins. “John Fitzgerald Kennedy, senator and president was also bound to us by his Irishness, his catholicness and also by the fact that he was a great American,”

Higgins said it is a somber day because of the passing of John Downey. The divisional organization is named for John Downey. He was the only living person to have that honor.

Alderman Daniel Salerno said he brought greetings from Mayor Erin Stewart.

“I don’t think I can tell anybody in this group what this day means,” said Salerno. “In 2001 we had a problem called the twin towers and everyone remembers where they were when that happened. Everyone here remembers where they were when John Kennedy was assassinated.”

Salerno said he was 13 when Kennedy was assassinated, but it was one of the most memorable times of his young life.

“We have to carry on that legacy as to what it meant to young people at that time,” said Salerno. “We have to try to extend that. It’s a good memorable time to give thought to the future as well as the past.”

The Ancient Order of Hibernians was formed in 1836 to combat violence against the priesthood in New York City. The organization protected churches and priests.

“This organization in New Britain was established in 1871,” said Higgins. “One of the founders was my great grandfather. We have continued to succeed in membership since we chartered around 1950. During war time most clubs fell apart.”

There were two AOH clubs. One from St. Mary’s and one was from St. Joseph’s Church. They both combined to keep this one alive.

“We are the largest Catholic family organization in American,” Higgins added. “We have about 100 members in New Britain.”

The group also supports the Make A Wish Foundation and has an annual food drive.