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Marines Steal St. Pat's Show

A Marine platoon stole the show at the annual Saint Patrick's Day breakfast in South Boston yesterday. The breakfast is a traditional roast at which politicians try to come up with the best jokes about one another. But this year, it was a somber note that marked the highlight of the gathering. WBUR's Fred Thys reports.

TEXT OF STORY:

FRED THYS: The annual political gathering came just three days before what's expected to be a highly charged hearing at the State House about Governor Deval Patrick's proposal to build three casinos.

DEVAL PATRICK: I don't know if you've been following this issue around resort casinos.

THYS: Patrick poked fun at his battle with Speaker Sal DiMasi over bringing casinos to Massachusetts.

PATRICK: Come on Sal, make it happen. Time to act, stop our spattin'. Tell me why round for round we go. Slots are good. Roulette's sweet. Blackjack tables. Grab a seat. Meet me half way. Do not stall. Sal, just think 'bout the wonder of it all

THYS: DiMasi stayed with that theme of his rivalry with Patrick.

SAL DIMASI: You should change careers, governor. You'd make a good croupier, I'll tell you that much. You looked good in a visor. If you did change careers, a lot of us would be happier, really.

THYS: Sticking with the relationship between DiMasi and Patrick, Senate President Therese Murray put on a referee's jacket to call some penalties.

THERESE MURRAY: Here are some of the calls I've had to make lately. False start. Governor's first year in office. Holding. The Speaker. The Governor's casino bill. The Governor's tax bill.

THYS: In the back, behind the long tables where people wearing green sweaters sat in front of plates of eggs, sausage, hash, and potatoes, 22 Marines stood in Dress Blues. One of them clapped to the music. State Senator Jack Hart, of South Boston, who hosts the annual breakfast, introduced them.

JACK HART: There was a young soldier named Walter O'Haire, and he was killed in action last year. He's a South Boston kid. His mother's Maureen O'Haire. What Maureen O'Haire did is she took the money that she got from the government for her son's death and she contacted the platoon of Marines that her son served with and she paid their way to come here all the way up from North Carolina also I think we owe these gentlemen a tremendous round of applause.

THYS: The applause was so long that that the sergeant leading the Marines shook his head in wonder. All 22 Marines left early to march in the Saint Patrick's Day parade that Walter O'Haire had watched from one street corner every year. Last year, he left Camp Lejeune without permission and drove all night to be in South Boston for the parade. His mother, reached on her cell phone afterwards, sounded proud that she had been able to bring his buddies to Boston to march in memory of their friend.

This program aired on March 17, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.

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