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Mayor Bloomberg dedicated a monument to New York's "Fighting 69th" yesterday in Ballymote, Ireland. But much of the attention was on whether or not he will run for President in 2008 (it seems no, since he said he'd serve his second term) and discussed immigration reform, saying, "we need to inject some common sense into our immigration laws, and I'm doing my best to make that case in Washington." And amidst protesters, he emphasized the need to fight terrorists and defended Senator Joe Lieberman's pro-war stance.

As for the dedication itself, Mayor Bloomberg praised he 69th Infantry, an Irish-American regiment which has fought during the Civil War, WWI, WWII, the current Iraqi war, and even responded on September 11. From the city's press release:

The memorial, a large copper cylinder that incorporates steel from the World Trade Center, is etched with moments from the life of Brigadier General Michael Corcoran, a commander of the Fighting 69th during the Civil War. The Fighting 69th, composed largely of Irish immigrants, fought in some of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War, including Bull Run, Fredericksburg and Gettysburg. Brigadier General Corcoran became one of the Civil War’s most revered heroes. When he returned to New York City after months of captivity in the South, enormous crowds attended a parade in his honor on Broadway. After his death, his body lay in state in City Hall.

Mayor Bloomberg posed with a bald eagle named Alaska - his first time with an eagle up close - and said, "If it wasn't for O'Flanagan's pub on the Upper East Side, I don't know where I would have spent my Friday nights as a young man."

Photograph by Peter Morrison/AP