Our thoughts

Happy St. Patty's Day

The Covington News - - Opinion -

“The im­mi­grant’s heart marches to the beat of two quite dif­fer­ent drums, one from the old home­land and the other from the new. The im­mi­grant has to bridge these two worlds, liv­ing com­fort­ably in the new and bring­ing the best of his or her an­cient iden­tity and her­itage to bear on life in an adopted home­land.”

— Ir­ish Pres­i­dent Mcaleese

To­mor­row is St. Pa­trick’s Day — a day usu­ally as­so­ci­ated with drink­ing and rev­elry. But St. Pa­trick’s Day re­ally means more than all of that. The day rep­re­sents a cel­e­bra­tion of a cul­ture — a cul­ture that has spread its roots across Amer­ica and been a part of its very growth and de­vel­op­ment into a mighty na­tion.

A sur­vey con­ducted in 2008 by the United States Cen­sus Bureau found that 39,278,332 of us can trace our roots back to Ir­ish an­ces­try. There are an­other 3.5 mil­lion Amer­i­cans who are of Scotch–ir­ish an­ces­try. There is only one an­ces­tral group larger in this coun­try and that’s Ger­man Amer­i­cans.

A ma­jor­ity of the Ir­ish did not come to this coun­try with sil­ver spoons in their mouths. They came as in­den­tured ser­vants. They fled their home­land be­cause of famine and many had been po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers of one sort or an­other. They were not re­spected in the least by the then blue-nosed aris­to­crats who had set­tled the coun­try orig­i­nally.

The Ir­ish set­tled into hard-la­bor jobs. Some joined the Army and many died dur­ing the Civil War. Most didn’t even know what they were fight­ing for and many killed fel­low Irishmen.

Even into the 1940s the Ir­ish peo­ple were still be­ing dis­re­spected in the U.S. In many com­mu­ni­ties in Nor­folk, Va., signs read “all dogs and Ir­ish­man keep off the grass.”

The Ir­ish im­mi­grants arose from these po­si­tions of de­spair by band­ing to­gether and get­ting elected to public of­fice. They took con­trol of their own des­tinies and their fam­i­lies by tak­ing pride in their new coun­try while keep­ing in mind their roots. As a re­sult, 22 Amer­i­can pres­i­dents in­clud­ing Barack Obama can trace their roots to their Ir­ish an­ces­tors.

Some be­came fa­mous Ir­ish writ­ers, ac­tors and in­dus­tri­al­ists. James Cag­ney, Walt Dis­ney, F.scott Fitzger­ald and Henry Ford are all of Ir­ish de­scent. There were some no­to­ri­ous bad Ir­ish folks too. Famed out­law Billy the Kid and Lee Har­vey Oswald come to mind.

Yes it is fun to be Ir­ish, or part Ir­ish or pre­tend Ir­ish. Their cel­e­bra­tion of life and death is renowned and an im­por­tant thought to think of to­mor­row when you eat corned beef or sip on an ale. What the Ir­ish cul­ture brought to this coun­try was re­mark­able and we still are en­joy­ing the ben­e­fits of it.

So to­mor­row feel free to cel­e­brate. Feel free to revel in the fact that be­cause the var­ied of cul­tures in this coun­try, we can cel­e­brate life as we wish — in free­dom. Happy St. Pa­trick's Day from all of us here at The News.

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