On April 25, 1945, during the WWII Battle of Okinawa, the Woodhaven native was administering Last Rites to dying soldiers when he was killed.
Over 4,000 servicemen attended mass at Lynch’s graveside a few months later. He was just 38 years old at the time of his death.
Ed Wendell, president of the Woodhaven Historical Society, discovered that the triangle had been named for Lynch in 1949, but as time went on, it was forgotten.
Wendell learned a lot about Lynch from a book about his life called Father Cyclone, Lynch’s nickname.
“Everybody knows the difference between right and wrong, even a car thief knows the difference,” Wendell said. “Sometimes knowing the difference and doing the right thing is not easy. Father Lynch excelled in doing the right thing when it wasn’t easy.”
He hopes that places like the Rev. Lawrence E. Lynch Memorial Triangle will help guide youth in the community.
“We have a shortage of good role models,” Wendell added. “We lost this one for a long time and it’s important that we give this back to the communities of Woodhaven, Ozone Park and Cypress Hills.”
Mary Lynch Westmoreland, Lynch’s niece, attended the memorial with her sister-in-law and husband.
“We’re all veterans and we’re all very proud to be a part of this gathering,” she said. “We too, like you, used him as an example all of our lives.”
Councilman Eric Ulrich presented Westmoreland and her family with a replica of the new sign. Ulrich sponsored legislation to have the triangle rededicated.
“We’re here to honor an American hero,” Ulrich said. “We know what the word hero means, but so often we forget that they’re right in our backyard and they’re people that come from our community and our neighborhood.”
State Senator Joseph Addabbo said he has passed the triangle often, but never knew that it was dedicated to Lynch.
“Inspirational, dedicated, a hero, these are some of the words for Father Lynch,” Addabbo said. “Wouldn’t this world be a much, much better place if we would follow Father Lynch?”
Tanya Thomas of the Department of Veteran Services expressed the importance of memorial honoring those who gave their lives in service.
“Our World War II veterans are so important,” Thomas said. “Our veterans are one of our greatest resources as a society.”
American Legion Post #118 Commander John Lawless announced that the organization will add Lynch as an honorary member and install a plaque on the post’s building memorializing his sacrifice and service.
“It was the least we could do,” Lawless said.