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Sunday, March 18, 2012

St. Patrick's Day - A Refelction

Yesterday, March 17, was St. Patrick's Day.   A day which has long been one of refelection and celebration of all things Irish here in the USA.  This day also heralds the imminent spring and it is very evident here where I live, New York.  Trees are starting to bud and green shoots are coming out of the ground.  Also, my allergies have been killing me this weekend.

Growing up, there was always the decor and celebration of St. Patrick's Day at home and school.  Green decorations were all around and the call of Erin Go Bragh - Ireland Forever was prominently featured in a sign at home.  The Irish in America have come along way since their arrival beginning in the mid 1800's and continuing to this day, although in smaller numbers.  The Irish were not greeted with open arms, infact they were look upon as dirty, ignorant, and violent.  No Irish Need Apply signs were displayed in the windows of businesses looking for employees. 

Despite the antipathy aimed squarely in their direction, the Irish through their determination, hard work, and tenacity made important contributions to the American mosaic.  They fought in the American Civil War, helped build the Transcontinental Railroad, and several generations later they could claim a President as one of their own.

Today, the Irish example is emulated by other foreign born peoples.  From Asia and from the Southern Hemisphere these new arrivals seek better lives and a chance at the "American Dream."  In fact, my in laws did such a thing almost 50 years ago and worked hard and raised a family and are now retired and enjoy their grandchildren.  Was it easy for them?  Was it easy for the Irish, no.  However, we must recognize the important contribution made by immigrants to the fabric of American, both yesterday, today, and tommorrow.

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