Sergeant Edward Burns
14 November 2008
1 hour, 57 minutes, 54 seconds
Ireland House Oral History Collection, Archives of Irish America, New York University
Sergeant Edward Burns was born in 1937 at New York Hospital on Manhattan’s Upper East Side to John and Josephine Marie Burns. He was raised in Astoria, Queens, although he attended Catholic schools in Manhattan from grammar school to high school. Sgt. Burns was a member of the New York Police Department for twenty-seven years. He worked in various capacities in the force ending up in the Office of the Deputy Commissioner, Public Information. Sgt. Burns went back to school while working as an officer. He attended Saint John’s University for a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and New York University for a Master’s degree in Media Ecology.
Sgt. Burns and his wife, Mary Catherine (Molly) Burns have three children Mary, Edward and Brian. They raised their family in Valley Stream, Long Island. He and his wife still live on Long Island, their daughter does as well with her family. His two sons are both involved in film and television. Edward is famous for his independent films, especially The Brothers McMullen (1995) and for his acting in movies like Saving Private Ryan (1998). Brian has most recently worked as a writer/producer for the hit HBO show Entourage. Edward lives in Manhattan with his family and Brian in California with his.
Excerpt No. 1
Pop BurnsDisc 1, Track 2, 3:55–4:46
Transcription of Excerpt No. 1
SEB: And I can remember as a little boy grandpa taking me up to the Fleischmann’s(1) warehouse, they have big warehouses, you know, six – seven stories high. He took me to this one, I’ll never forget this, I recall my grandfather very much, he was quite a character. But he took me up to this, try to imagine a wooden vat ten feet high and maybe twenty feet in diameter and they had ladders and whatever they did to the vinegar I guess they had to cure the vinegar or whatever. He took me up, I can remember he carried me up and he stuck my head over the side and the fumes, to this day I remember the shock of those fumes, which… Well it was great fun, it really was. He was a remarkable man.
Excerpt No. 2
EddieDisc 2, Track 1, 6:04–6:22
Transcription of Excerpt No. 2
SEB: When he won Sundance they interviewed me a lot about his childhood and I said to them I’ll tell you who this kid is. This is the kid who in the sixth grade was the toughest kid in the class, the best basketball player in the school and he won the poetry contest. So where are you going to go with him.
Excerpt No. 3
Views on CatholicismDisc 2, Track 4, 2:53–3:54
Transcription of Excerpt No. 3
SEB: I often say this in society. I had eight years of Catholic elementary school, four years of Catholic high school, I have a Bachelor’s degree from Saint John’s University and I became an atheist at NYU. [laughs] Catholicism has been a very big part of my life, a very big part of my life. It was sort of, sort of the educational anchor of my life – Dominican nuns, Marist brothers, Vincentian priests, but ah, you know that’s all from a different era, the world’s changed so much from when I was a kid. I mean when I grew up in Astoria they were still delivering milk and vegetables with horse wagons. You know, I was born before World War II.
Excerpt No. 4
My mind is IrishDisc 2, Track 5, 0:46–1:37
Transcription of Excerpt No. 4
SEB: Remember I told you that Catholicism is like the moral compass, anchor, well being Irish American is… it gives me a historical frame of reference. Even though I am basically a Heinz 57 variety person, coming from all these different places, my mind is Irish. The um, the great exit from Ireland into America during the famine years is, I’m a direct result of that. If that doesn’t happen, then I’m not here.
- Emily Mahoney
- Linda Almeida
- Sgt. Burns at Yellowstone National Park
- Sgt. Edward Burns as a young officer in the 25th Precinct in New York City.
- Burns at his 8th grade graduation.
- Sgt. Burns’ grandparents, Andrew (Pop) Burns and Mary Gale Burns.
- Sgt. Burns at 2009 New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade with his daughter, Mary DeFuria and grandson, Jack.
- Fleischmann’s was a food manufacturer based at Charles Point in Peekskill, NY, about 45 miles north of Times Square in Manhattan. Best known for its yeast products, its vinegar operation was quite large and grew substantially after 1900. Standard Brands bought the company in 1929. It’s likely that Sgt. Burns grandfather took him out of the city to visit the warehouse described in this anecdote.