Wednesday, March 17, 2010
St. Patrick And His Day
Much of St. Patrick's history has been shrouded in the misty past. "He is credited with driving the snakes out of Ireland; triumphing over the pagan Druids and their supernatural powers and using a shamrock to explain the Christian mystery of the Holy Trinity.

Scholars say there likely never were snakes in Ireland, and as far as the Druids and Shamrock used as a teaching tool no one seems to have discovered those truths. But it is legend.

Patrick (389-461) was raised in a noble family and as a Roman citizen in the 4th century. He was kidnapped and enslaved by Irish pirates as a youth turning to God and Catholicism to salve his despair. After six years he escaped and returned home to the celebration of his parents. To their consternation to vowed to return to minister to his pagan captors and did rising to become a Bishop.

His travels and travails grew and became legendary. His celebration predated the Irish immigration to America when the potato famine decimated the Island. The first St. Patrick's Day was celebrated in the American colonies in 1737.

The Great Potato famine (Irish: an Gorta Mór, IPA: [?n? 'g???t?? 'm?o???], the Great Hunger[; an Drochshaol, [?n? 'd???x?hi?l?], the Bad Life) was a period of mass starvation, disease and emigration in Ireland between 1845 and 1852 during which the island's population dropped by 20 to 25 percent. Approximately one million people died and a million more emigrated from Ireland - many to America. The plight struck Europe in 1840 but Ireland where the potato was a staple of life was a tragedy.

Always religious many Irish turned to faith when they had little else. St. Patrick was even more revered.

St. Patrick's death is celebrated on March 17 with the wearing of the green as a symbol of Catholic faith and as sharp contrast to the hated Orange worn by the Protestants in the north. It is no accident the Irish flag is a tri-color of orange, white and green.
In America things did not go easy for the Irish immigrants and many a Paddy lost his job when celebrating and not working on March 17. But by the Civil War there were at least a half dozen Generals who fought. Since there have been many of Irish heritage such as: William Randolph Hearst, John L. Sullivan, Father Francis Duffy, William "Wild Bill" Donavan, Sam Houston, John Ford, John Huston, Grace Kelly, Tyrone Power, Errol Flynn, Bing Crosby and Spencer Tracy, and the list goes on.It was left to an American name Olcott whose granddaughter lives near by to write "When Irish Eyes Are Shining" what some call the Irish anthem.

It is up to each of us to wear the green or not but, there is little doubt that the Irish and St. Patrick will have their day and green beer an whiskey will flow as giant stories are told.
Posted at 08:43 AM By admin | Permalink | Email this Post | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009
by Richard Cochrane
November 11, 2009

The Sergeant was a hero in the tiny West Virginia town where I grew up. On Armistice Day, as my grandparents insisted on calling Veteran’s Day, there was a parade led by a solitary figure in an ill-fitting Marine uniform limping just behind an honor guard with flags waving. Behind him came other men in caps festooned with medals and such shouldering rifles as they solemnly struggled to stay in step. The Union High School band would march stone-faced playing something patriotic and generally in tune. The whole thing was herded by a glistening white fire truck that was the pride of the local volunteer fire department. Eventually they all arrived at the cemetery at the north edge of town where other men talked and the rifles cracked sending me and other boys scrambling for the prized spent cartridges, and then it as over except for a cook-out at one relative’s house or the other, and the obligatory visit to each pair of grandparents.
There would be the stories of Uncle Charlie who had been gassed at Verdun, and was never quite right since; the “Hatch boy” who disappeared somewhere in the Pacific before I was born, and of the Sergeant himself who left his leg on someplace named Guadalcanal and who will forever march at the head of the parade.
Soon the men clustered in assorted chairs out back under a cloud of tobacco smoke and talk turned to the upcoming high school football game. The women disappeared into the kitchen to do God knew what. My cousins and I debated what game to play or just argued and fought over nothing.
As I look back it was as close to Mayberry as any boy could get. But, I expect it was a variation of ten thousand other towns. Another page was turned on an America that would never change but has.
The town’s still there; the high school’s been “consolidated”, and the people are almost all dead or gone – I’m told there are 1,800 souls there now – even the white fire truck has been retired to sit silently in honor.
It is all about honor and remembrance.
Posted at 08:56 AM By admin | Permalink | Email this Post | Comments (0)

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