Having just concluded another St Paddy’s Day, many folks are waking from an alcohol induced slumber. Cracking their eyes open having participated in the revelry of celebration of all things Irish. For a lot of people it’s a celebration just to celebrate, for others it is their own Irish Mardi Gras, for me it was something personal.
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I am decidedly Irish. Very Irish in fact…..well there is some Scot thrown in there for good measure, but as most folks of Irish decent in American; when you trace lines you tend to find Irish and Scots are one great intermingling folk at times. In any event, this diary is about my decidedly Irish decent and how it has affected my views.
I am 4th or 5th generation Irish depending on which side of my family you talk to. My mother’s family came to American during the great Irish immigration. Instead of settling in New York, they took the boats farther inwards through the Great Lakes region and landed in Chicago around 1880, my father’s side exactly the same story only 40 years earlier. My mother's side settling in the burgeoning city, the other settling farther south east and ending up in what would become the great sprawling suburban utopia of north west Indiana.
One side very catholic the other protestant, I like to think I represent how The Troubles never needed to occur in the first place. On one side my family toiled the land, land they eventually owned through years of hard work and suffering. The other toiled in the growing factories never quite getting ahead and having to see their son off to join the Navy for the War Effort. That same son eventually finding a way of life with family and a home after said war, with his GI assistance.
Two very distinct stories, but decidedly American in nature. A culture of people that immigrated to this amazing country to erect great buildings, grow the nation’s food, build bridges and rail and generally make this nation better than it was before their arrival.
So every year, St Paddy’s Day comes and I am reminded of my Irish decent. A stoic history of peoples oppressed, struggling to bring life from the land, traveling broad and afar for a hope and dream, a dream to give their children a better life than they had to toil for; much like every immigrant that has ever trekked to our great nation…legal or illegal.
This is why it saddens me every time I hear attacks on our most recent large swath of immigrants. There was a time where Irish immigrants where denigrated, berated, hated on, spit upon, and thought as lesser than human. They took ‘Real Americans’ jobs, they used resources better fit for ‘Real Americans’ and were nothing more than a drain on resources and society at large. Their very existence in America would be the nation’s downfall.
Quite really no different than our Latino American immigrants, their families and current descendants struggling to eek out a better life for themselves and their children.
Because of their struggles, both past and current, I consider them as brothers and sisters, whose family have immigrated to this great nation for a better life….legal or illegal.
So to you Latino folks out there, stay strong. Stay proud of your heritage. Stay the course that is the American story. Because just like the Irish before you…there will come a time where the entire nation parties and celebrates your history.
Irlanda para siempre