Upon hearing the news that terror mastermind Osama bin Laden had been killed, James and Patrick Dowdell reportedly sped from Rockaway to Ground Zero. They brought with them bagpipes to join the gathering crowds Sunday night and mark the killing of bin Laden, who was responsible for the death of their brother, FDNY Lieutenant Kevin Dowdell, one of nearly 3,000 souls who perished that awful morning almost a decade ago.
It was an indication of how the Irish American community -- hit so hard by the terror attacks -- responded to this long awaited news.
Now that bin Laden has been sent off to (we can only hope) a much worse place, there remain practical matters of law enforcement to sort out.
For example, it has generally been accepted that while Osama bin Laden was public enemy number one, Boston Irish gangster James “Whitey” Bulger was the second Most Wanted man.
If he is still alive, of course. As Irishcentral.com and other outlets have noted, rumors have been swirling that Bulger recently died of a heart attack in Costa Rica.
Either way, Bulger has proven useful to certain Pakistani authorities who are under the gun for possibly allowing bin Laden to live right under their noses.
"If Whitey Bulger can live undetected by American police for so long, why can't Osama bin Laden live undetected by Pakistani authorities?" asked Ambassador Husain Haqqani, in an interview posted on The Atlantic magazine’s website.
But maybe that’s enough about the bad guys. In the past week numerous Irish Americans have emerged who are “wanted” for all of the right reasons.
Consider two big-time crime fighters, one from New York and one from Chicago. New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and U.S. attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald are among those being considered to lead the FBI.
Current FBI head Robert Mueller took over the agency just one week before the terror attacks of 9/11. His 10-year term is now drawing to a close.
A committee led by Vice President Joe Biden is looking closely at replacing Mueller. Fitzgerald, the son of Irish immigrants, is among the candidates.
“Mr. Fitzgerald, a longtime prosecutor and a holdover United States attorney from the Bush administration, has a strong reputation for independence, as leader of the investigation into the leak of the name of a Central Intelligence Agency operative, Valerie Plame Wilson,” a New York Times analysis noted.
However, Fitzgerald’s “willingness to challenge the Bush White House could give its current occupants pause, though they would never say so in public.”
Kelly, “by contrast, is a Democrat with a strong law enforcement résumé.
“Before becoming commissioner of the New York Police Department, he was a Treasury Department official during the Clinton administration and supervised the U.S. Customs Service, the Secret Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, has endorsed him for the F.B.I. position.”
The Times did note that Kelly’s age, 70, could pose a problem, given the 10 year-term FBI leaders serve.
Meanwhile, all of the news about the beatification of Pope John Paul II has made it easy to forget that the most popular Irish American priest of the 20th century is also “wanted” -- as a serious candidate for sainthood.
The case for Fulton Sheen’s beatification had stalled, reportedly because of conflicts between the New York Archdiocese and the one in Sheen’s native Peoria, Illinois.
Sheen was the star of a highly rated TV show in the 1950s called Life Is Worth Living. He also wrote best-selling books, a popular newspaper column, appeared on the cover of Time, and is credited for making Catholicism acceptable to many Americans in the 1950s.
This month Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria is expected to file documents with the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in the Vatican, which will then begin its own investigation into the cause of Sheen’s sainthood.
This comes as Buffalo priest Father Nelson Baker (1842-1936) also moves closer the sainthood, which would reportedly make him the first Irish American saint.
So, at this uncertain moment in out nation’s history, it’s useful to pause and realize that some people are “wanted” for all the right reasons.
(Contact “Sidewalks” at email@example.com or facebook.com/tomdeignan)