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The Irish blood that runs through my veins prompts me to honor my ancestors each year on St.Patrick's Day. I am proud to be an Irish-American, as my paternal great grandfather ( Clifford Gallagher )and my maternal great grandfather ( James " Pop " O'Brien ), were both born on the Emerald Isle. St.Patrick's Day was introduced to the United States by Irish immigrants. The first organized celebration of St. Patrick's Day in the 13 colonies took place in Boston, Massachusetts in 1737. The first celebration of St. Patrick's Day in New York City was held at the Crown and Thistle Tavern in 1756. In 1780, George Washington, commanding soldiers of Irish descent in the Continental Army, allowed his troops a holiday on March 17TH. This event became known as the St. Patrick's Day Encampment.The St.Patrick's Day Parade took place for the first time on March 17TH, 1762. It was staged by Irish soldiers in the British Army, celebrating their Irish heritage. Over the next 80 years, " Irish Aid " societies were established in New York City, each holding annual celebrations or parades featuring Irish music and dancing. In 1848, the various celebrations were merged into a single St. Patrick's Day parade. Today, it is the largest St. Patrick's Day parade in the world, watched by roughly 2 million spectators.
Being a retired Firefighter, it intrigues me that Irish Policemen and Firefighters were not just stereotypes :the Irish all but monopolized these jobs when they were being created in the post-Civil War years, and even today Irish names are clearly over-represented in these occupations. I was honored to have been given the opportunity to attend the 9-11 Tribute ceremony at Madison Square Garden in New York City, honoring the 343 Firefighters who perished at the World Trade Center. There was not a dry eye in the house when the FDNY Emerald Society Pipes and Drums came marching in Madison Square Garden, playing "Amazing Grace" on their bagpipes. It was an emotional experience that I will never forget. I also will not forget the 72 NYPD officers who heroically gave their lives as well. In closing I will leave you with one of my favorite Irish Blessings- " May God give you...for every storm a rainbow, for every tear a smile, for every care a promise and a blessing in each trial. For every problem life sends, a faithful friend to share, for every sigh a sweet song and an answer to each prayer."
Brian Patrick Swanner
Gas City, Indiana