A blog before that brought you some of the story of PEI born Charles MacGillivary who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery during the Battle of the Bulge during WWll. His medal again was the sole medal for his unit.
Mac is shown above with the President and the Fort Myers new facility is shown on the left. It however turns out that rather than being so named, the facility is actually being dedicated in memory of this brave immigrant to the US. Still a great honour indeed. (Charles became a US citizen before going off to war.)
At noon on the 21st of this month, many USCIS officials, and employees, other officials and the public gathered to witness the official opening of an office in the area that, from that day forth, would prevent an applicant having to travel upwards of 2 hrs to received citizenship services.
There was another very select group who also attended. Twenty men and women who waited 5, and 10 and in one case apparently 18 years to official become citizens of the United States. Some who have apparently never voted before in their lives.
And there was another smaller group of important folks there that day. Family and friends of Charles MacGillivary.
It would be in 1945 at Fenway Park that a game ball in the world series would be presented to Charles MacGillivary by then US Congressman Jack Kennedy, in the very park that the Congressman's grandfather tossed out the very first ball back in 1912. And the woman to the left walking under that Kennedy quote would be Charles own daughter Charlene Corea, shown at left.
Shelly Randall, Fort Myers Field Office Director told this blog that she was tasked with dedicating the office to a Medal of Honor recipient who was NOT born in the United States, a man... or woman... who truly represented the very mandate of the Department...encouraging citizenship.
She added that she wanted to find someone with connections to the immediate area, had earned the medal for actual combat in the face of the enemy and was from one of the more recent conflicts.
She did a lot of research and then came across the story of, not only a combat wounded vet but also a major hero who had often wintered in the area with his wife. Reading the story of this fascinating veteran told her he was the very man she was looking for. Not only did he fit the bill so far, his chosen role as an advocate for veterans for decades also convinced her that he was the man that they should now honour. It was only after the decision was made that they learned that a relative actually lived close by. And her name was Charlene Corea!
It would fall to USCIS Deputy Associate Director of Field Operations Michael Valverde to introduce Charlene to the audience.
Rather than recall his military record, no doubt covered by others at the event, he chose to talk of some of the less know accomplishments that Charles reached in service to his fellow citizens. He mentioned how Charles was instrumental in the original creation of the very society of today and known as the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, and how he would one day become its only foreign born President. Many years later another became #2 with this distinction but that was recently just learned by most.
He noted the work Charles did in the creation of the standard MOH grave markers throughout the US and beyond..(including in Canada,) and his work to create a state vehicle licensing that recognized the veterans. The authorities wanted to give him the very first number plate..with the number one, but Charles being Charles, did not want to stand out from the crowd and insisted in taking what ever number finally came up when they got to his name.
I do not have the comments that Charlene shared about her father but I expect that they included the pride he had in not only being Canadian born, but on becoming a naturalized citizen of the United States. She probably also mentioned the struggles that he put aside to continue to serve his nation as a good citizen and that those gathered had a similar responsibility to seek and rise above challenges and then move forward with a new life in America.
I'm told the plaque will find a home on the wall of the main entry area to the building so that all that enter can read about Canadian born Charles MacGillivary.
When I advised Charlottetown PEI's federal MP of the event he sent off a letter to thank those involved for recognizing this bravery, whether it comes from an American, a Canadian or a citizen of another country. Tipping off our own embassy at DC, our top military attache, Admiral Truelove also sent along his best regards and added that the US is Canada's most important ally and defense partner. "Our defence relations are longstanding and well entrenched. The dedication to Sgt. MacGillivary, a Canadian who served his adopted homeland with distinction, is a testament to that relationship."
The medal has been awarded just over 200 times since back in 1979 and usually at a formal ceremony in Ottawa on the 18th, the very day of the decision in 1929 that women were actually PERSONS. DAH!
This year the celebrations have been put off for a few weeks to join with the celebrations from one of the western provinces on their anniversary of gaining the womens vote 100 years ago.
Time has run out, and space to boot, to give the month the honourable coverage it needs, but I would encourage all to read up on a few names sadly not nearly well known. These include civil war heros Sarah Emma Edwards, and Isabella Fogg, the famous five of course and the three ladies hardly ever getting any press coverage, but the leaders in the movement to have the very month of celebration in Canada. Of course I refer to Victorians Lynne Gough, Cathy Blazkow and the late Cathyrne Armstrong my mother.
see you next week