Regardless of your nationality, race or language, St. Patrick’s Day should be a great reminder to everyone that immigration is not a “problem,” it’s a celebration.
Sure, St. Patrick’s Day is a great excuse to drink beer and wear green. It is a fun element of American pop culture. But for many Irish Americans, St. Patrick’s Day is as much about immigration as it is Irish culture. Irish immigrants in the 1800s risked everything to cross the Atlantic Ocean and resettle for a better life in a still very young United States. Even after the hazardous journey, they were scorned as outsiders and labeled as thugs. Through all of this, they persevered. Each generation of Irish American has improved their circumstances and carved out a chapter of the American story. The holiday is the celebration of succeeding in a new life as an American.
Without the great explosion of Irish immigration, we wouldn’t have many of the great contributors to American history and culture. We would miss entertainers like Grace Kelly, Harrison Ford and Kurt Cobain, as well as business icons such as Henry Ford and Jack Welch. America never would have had the opportunity to enjoy literary staples from F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tom Clancy, Pat Conroy and Anne Rice just to name a few. And what about the many U.S. Presidents of Irish decent such as: Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, Grover Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and even Barack Obama. Sports fans wouldn’t be able to celebrate stars like Tom Brady, John Daly, John Elway, Derek Jeter, John McEnroe and Kelly Slater. The list is long.
So as you raise that green beer on St. Patrick’s Day, toast the immigrants that came before you for making the United States an exceptional country and remember that immigration is something to celebrate. In fact, thank your lucky charms that you’re an American.