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Going green
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In 1850 in Ireland at the crest of the potato famine emigration, Orestes Brownson, a celebrated convert to Catholicism, stated: "Out of these narrow lanes, dirty streets, damp cellars, and suffocating garrets, will come forth some of the noblest sons of our country, whom she will delight to own and honor."

Thursday, we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

For many Americans, those with no Irish heritage whatsoever, it has become a day set aside to booze and to be rowdy.

But to the Irish, St. Patrick’s Day surely contains a few toasts but is also rich with tradition.

It is a day for those of Irish descent to remember the hardships faced by their immigrant forefathers, how they had to endure living in the filthiest of conditions and perform jobs that were the lowest of the low and were spat upon and despised.

But they never forgot their pride in their homeland and most of all they never forgot and were thankful that they were Americans.

The Irish as a people rose above this sorry state in life and produced some of the greatest poets and scholars and military men this country has ever been proud to produce.

The Irish learned that by using their sheer numbers they could rise to the top of the political world and affect change in this country.

Seventeen American presidents, beginning with Andrew Jackson and including Barak Obama, can trace family roots to Ireland.

Some of the great tycoons of American business are of Irish descent, including Henry Ford and Joseph Kennedy Sr.

The Irish in the cinematic arts include Walt Disney, John Ford and Alfred Hitchcock. The literary world contains so many Irish names and talented people that it is impossible to single out just a few, and our military has produced leaders of Irish descent including John Barry, father of our Navy, Confederate General Patrick Cleburne and World War II Medal of Honor winner Audie Murphy.

There were more than their share of gangsters, too, including Billy the Kid and the Irish mobs of all the major cities. In fact there were so many that a police vehicle for hauling prisoners became known as the Paddy Wagon.

The Irish have succeeded in this country because they grasped the true meaning of what it stands for.

They collectively followed the American principles of working hard, having the deepest of faiths, having a pride in their accomplishments and showing their will to lead the way for positive and productive change.

Whether you’re Irish or not, Thursday is a day to celebrate what is good about our country.

So we might suggest that you pour yourselves a toast, may it be milk or water or something stronger, and sip it with pride. Be thankful that whatever your nationality, your parents or grandparents had the will and fortitude to see that you had the opportunity to share in the American Experience, the grandest experiment of human perseverance that has ever existed.

God bless the Irish and Happy St. Patrick’s Day.