Irish American History Month

 

            We have been quite busy the past couple of months in our continuing effort to have March permanently established as Irish-American Heritage Month. I take this occasion to publicly thank Neil Cosgrove and John Schell for all they have done and continue to do. A couple of highlights of our ongoing efforts follow.

We have been in communication with the Department of Education regarding their Federal Resources for Educational Excellence (FREE) webpage. In an effort to make information available regarding Irish-American heritage, history and culture, we have asked them to include Irish-American information onto the list of Ethnic Groups under the U.S. History Topics. The officer in charge of this webpage, Kirk Winters, has responded favorably, stating he will be searching federal agency websites for quality teaching and learning materials related to our heritage, history and culture. He further stated that what he finds will be added to the FREE website. He further invited us to do the same — to locate any federally created or federally supported materials — and send the URL to him. If you are aware of any such sites, please send the information to John Schell at jschell31@verizon.net.

We met with Congressman Peter King’s senior staffer in charge of Irish Programs, and brought her up to date on our efforts to make IAHM a permanent event. She was fully supportive of this, and promised to work with Congressman King and other members of the Friends of Ireland in helping to make this happen. She had further ideas in how we, the AOH, can proceed, which we will pursue. Further, she provided us with the names of the current Friends of Ireland. This comes to about 44 names.

We have initiated a letter-writing campaign to a very limited number of federal agencies, asking them to devote resources to Irish-American events during the month of March in future years. Primary targeted agencies include the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Additionally, a letter has been drafted to the Secretary of the Army asking that Army Regulation 600-20, Table 6-1 be amended to include Irish-American Heritage Month, thus allowing DOD agencies to plan for and expend funds to promote IAHM. This would not require public law, in that some of the ethnic observances listed in this table cite as the authority the date of an earlier Presidential Proclamation.

So, our efforts continue. Finally, thank you all for all you do to support and promote our Irish heritage, and to support our goal of making Irish-American Heritage Month a permanent, recurring event, not dependent upon an annual Presidential Proclamation.

Vice President’s Message

AOH ADDRESS LABELS By now you should have received Hibernian address labels as a token of our appreciation for your continued and anticipated support for the AOH National Board’s charitable giving in your name. Please notice that each set has been forwarded to your Hibernian Digest address and (due to repeated requests for additional labels) is composed of sixty labels instead of the thirty-three mailed in past years. As Hibernians, an organization of Irish-American Catholics, we feel compelled to promote our Gospel and cultural values wherever possible. It is through your own sharing in the mighty mission of the AOH that we seek to serve others in a responsive manner that is consistent with the rich traditions of our own legacy of Heritage, History, and Faith. We need every Hibernian’s participation in order for that mission to continue to be a success. Show your pride in being a Hibernian by displaying our AOH logo on your mail.

ü  Please forward your check along with the “Tear-Off/Return” section.

ü  Check must be made payable to: AOH National Board.

ü  Mail to: Ancient Order of Hibernians, P.O. Box 71, Blue Point, N.Y. 11715

ST. LOUIS 2014: Wow! Those Hibernians are energized and enthusiastic. Our October visit had the purpose of finalizing contract details with the Millennium Hotel and connecting with the local convention committee’s leadership. While 2014 seems like an eternity away, this group already has ideas on how to make the most of your stay with them. The hotel is beautiful and its location is super; just one street away from, and with most rooms facing, the famous St. Louis Arch. If you can imagine it – Seamus Boyle, Tom McNabb, Jim McKay and I were treated like visiting rock stars. (Seamus even got to throw out the first pitch at the Cardinals home game!) The Friday evening reception attended by members from all of the St. Louis divisions, as well as men and women from across the river in Belleville, Illinois, was informal and very special. As the evening grew later, more of their younger members began to arrive. Asking about what they see as attracting 20’s and 30’s to the AOH got us some valuable insights: the ritual, the sense of truly being Irish, friends recruiting friends, older members willing to share experience/expertise/guidance, the willingness to let younger Brothers show what they can do, and an openness to their voices and ideas. My own take on this experience: We have met the future of the AOH, and it looks great!!!  

BE QUIET AND WAIT!!! The four weeks of Advent will have begun by the time this reaches you. It is, and is meant to be, a time of quiet waiting. The reflective mood of Advent can easily be lost in the noise of crowded stores and the blaring of the secular world’s “holiday” music. But during these special weeks the true challenge for each of us is to seek the Lord, and in so doing to realize that He is waiting to be found. Here’s hoping we can all search for and discover our own moments of Advent “Time Out.”  Have a Blessed Christmas!

Irish American History Month

As I write this, we have already seen some great progress in regards to Irish American Heritage Month, and are hopeful of more to come. To date, we have received Proclamations declaring March as Irish American Heritage Month from the Governors of North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New York, and are awaiting similar proclamations from Maryland and Virginia. We also received one from the Mayor of Alexandria, Virginia, whose Proclamation decreed that the Irish Tri-Color flag would fly from the light poles along the main thoroughfare of Old Town Alexandria for the entire month of March.

In an attempt to make IAHM a permanent thing, we have sent letters to the four co-chairmen of the Ad Hoc Committee on Irhs Affairs, Congressmen Eliot Engel, Joseph Crowley, Peter King and Christopher Smith. In these letters we have asked them to encourage the Departments of State, Defense and Veterans Affairs to take such action as to recognize throughout the departments that March has been proclaimed as Irish American Heritage Month of the past 20 years. Additionally we have asked them to encourage The Smithsonian Institution to also observe IAHM as it observes the heritage, history, and culture of other groups.

Finally we have asked them to initiate such legislative processes which would make Irish American Heritage Month a permanent commemoration.

We continue to ask you, our membership, to let the IAHM Committee know what you are doing in support of IAHM to help us strengthen our case with the appropriate legislative bodies at the National level.

Below is the 2010 annual presidential proclamation from President Obama made on March 1st:

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

March 01, 2010

Presidential Proclamation–Irish American Heritage Month

A PROCLAMATION

From long before American independence to today, countless individuals have reached our shores, bringing vibrant cultures and diverse roots, and immeasurably enriching our Nation. This month, we honor the contributions made by the tens of millions of Americans who trace their heritage to the Emerald Isle.

Irish Americans fought for our independence, and their signatures adorn our founding documents. When famine ravaged Ireland in the 1840s and 1850s, many Irish men and women sought a new beginning in the United States. Though they faced poverty and discrimination, these immigrants transformed our cities, served in our Armed Forces, and settled the frontiers of our young Nation. Their children, and succeeding generations of Irish Americans, have preserved their culture’s values while becoming leaders in every facet of American life.

During this year’s Irish-American Heritage Month, we also celebrate an extraordinary Irishman: Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Throughout his career in public service, Senator Kennedy worked tirelessly to create opportunity for all Americans. His legacy lives on in the legislation he championed, which will bolster and protect the health, education, and civil rights of Americans for generations to come.

Across the Atlantic, the people of Ireland continue to confront their own challenges with resolve and determination. In the face of violence perpetuated by some — testing a hard-earned peace — the people of Northern Ireland have responded heroically. Undaunted, they and their leaders persist on the road to peace and prosperity enshrined over a decade ago in the Good Friday Agreement. The United States remains committed to supporting the political process and the work of those who have shown leadership in pursuit of a lasting peace.

Today, the sons and daughters of Erin can look back with pride on their many contributions to the civic and cultural life of America. Like so many of our Nation’s ethnic communities, Irish Americans are a people whose hard work and resilience have brought them great opportunity and success, and whose service to our Nation has left it a better place.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by the virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States do hereby proclaim March 2010 as Irish-American Heritage Month. I call upon all Americans to observe this month by celebrating the contributions of Irish American to our Nation with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.

BARACK OBAMA