I always thought that Patricia is my friend and so she put me up here following Bill Clinton, Pete Hamill and Eileen Collins. Fortunately, she has held General Dempsey till the end… Otherwise, I‘d be a dead duck here.
And actually, when Patricia invited me to accept this honor, I said, ‘Well, you want me to speak?’ And she said, ‘Yeah, but it is not a big deal. It is just a couple of minutes, if you can…” And so, perhaps fortunately for all of you, this is going to be a couple of minutes because that is all I prepared. So…
I would like to start by honoring Patricia and Neil O’Dowd.
The fact that we are here today, celebrating Irish American achievement is a testament to their efforts over the last three decades. More than anyone else, they had to find and record it, in print and online, what it means to be Irish and American and why is it a thing that we need to celebrate.
I ‘d like to pay a tribute to President Clinton, Eileen Collins, General Dempsey and Pete Hamill who fully embody the Irish American excellence. As I mentioned, I have a difficulty conjuring up a believable rationale for why I‘d be here, sharing a stage with such esteemed company. Yet here I am, and it is a great honor.
Thinking of my mother and father and their forebears from Tipperary and Roscommon, and my wife Brigit whose parents are from Leitrim and Cavan, it is impossible not to appreciate the fact that we all stand on the shoulders of so many who lived through such harder times and made much more greater sacrifices. It is an essential part of what it means to be an Irish American and any award that comes my way is as much theirs as mine.
Also I much recognize and thank my wife Bridget and my five children and their spouses that are here today…And I spared you—I didn’t bring my nine grandchildren…And we have one other gentleman sitting at the table– he is not my son. He is a dear friend of mine I think most of you even know– Thom Von Essen, former Fire Commissioner on 911 here in New York …
And as Patricia mentioned, there are few other individuals who I am truly indebted to and they are the reason why I am standing here today.
First of all, it‘d be Jim Fox, the former lead of the FBI. I also want to take a note of Ray Kelly who I believe is here and he was a good friend of Jim’s and we worked together when I was in the Bureau (FBI) and Ray was with NYPD. So in addition to Jim, there are two other gentlemen here who had already been mentioned but are really, really very important to me and that is Tom Moran of Mutual of America and Bill Flynn of Mutual of America . I am delighted that both of them took the time out of their busy day to come and be with me. I thank both of them. ♦
To read more about Ed Kenney, read Irish America’s April / May profile here.