|by Marie Coppola
President Obama proclaimed March 2011 as Irish-American Heritage Month. "I call upon all Americans to observe this month by celebrating the contributions of Irish Americans to our Nation."
In his Proclamation, he reminds us that "...for millions of Americans, their journey began in Ireland. In the wake of the Great Hunger, many sons and daughters of Erin came to our shores seeking a brighter day, with only courage and the enduring values of faith and family to sustain them. Alongside many others who sought a better life in a new Nation, these intrepid immigrants built strong communities and helped forge our country’s future. During Irish-American Heritage Month, we honor the contributions Irish Americans have made, and celebrate the nearly 40 million among us who proudly trace their roots back to Ireland."
"The Irish have overcome discrimination and carved out a place for themselves in the American story. Through hard work, perseverance, and patriotism, women and men of Irish descent have given their brawn, brains, and blood to make and remake this Nation — pulling it westward, pushing it skyward, and moving it forward. Half a century ago, John F. Kennedy became our first Irish-American Catholic President and with countless other Irish Americans whose leadership and service have steered the course of our Nation. Seldom in this world has a country so small had so large an impact on another."
Immigrants from Scotland and Ireland, along with their descendents, are technically called Scots-Irish. Famous Scots-Irish-Americans include: Thomas Brandon and Andrew Pickens, Revolutionary War heroes; John C. Calhoun, Vice President of the U.S., and Woodrew Wilson, President of the U.S.
More than one-third of all U.S. Presidents had substantial ancestral origins in the northern province of Ireland (Ulster). President Bill Clinton spoke proudly of that fact, and his own ancestral links with the province. Clinton is one of at least seventeen Chief Executives descended from emigrants to the United States from the north of Ireland. While many of the Presidents have typically Ulster-Scots surnames – Jackson, Johnson, McKinley, Wilson – others, such as Roosevelt and Cleveland, have links which are less obvious.
The Irish are an important part of South Carolina history. Families who emigrated from Scotland and Ireland, often by way of New England states such as Pennsylvania, brought with them a ruggedness honed from years of religious persecution.
May the leprechauns be near you,
To spread luck along your way
And may all the Irish angels
Smile upon you on St. Patrick's Day.
Ref: Wikipedia; SCIWAY; President's Proclamation