Remembering the Irish

The sun rises over the fields of green. Through my open window I see the new day ahead. I remind myself to wear green. Last year I forgot and everyone I knew pinched me several times during the day.

I stretch out on my bed. I think of how proud I am to be Irish. Even if it has been several generations since my family left Ireland. It was not as though they had much of a choice in the matter. They had to leave their homeland or starve. Once here there life was no easier, but they survived.

I could get up and get ready for school. I could stay here and pretend to be sick. The options for me spun around in my head like the laundry I can hear now as my mom goes through her daily routine. My dad is already at work.

I slip into a pair of underwear. My choice has been made. After I sneak down the hall for a quick shower I dress in a hurry not wanting to be late. If I am late again I will have to stay after school.

A breeze greets me as I leave the house. My mom says something about eating as I rush out the door.

At school I sit and listen, waiting for another school day to end. There is not much said about the Irish on this day. People pinch one another when they forget to wear green and there are plenty of jokes about drinking but no one says much about the Irish. At least not seriously. When people do mention the Irish it’s in a joke.

I think of the stories I have heard from my grandparents. Stories passed down to them as they are passing them down to me. Stories about the hardships faced by my ancestors when they arrived in the United States. They changed their last names and tried to speak differently in order to be less different. They worked hard for next to nothing on jobs too dangerous for others. They helped build this country, but they were not seen as the great people that they were and are.

The Irish were used and abused. They were seen as foreigners despite the fact that so few of the people were originally from this country. There is not a month to celebrate their contributions and they had to forget their language as did so many other groups that came to the United States.

I go from class to class hopeful that one of my teachers will mention the people of Ireland and the many contributions made by the Irish in the forming of this country. No one mentions the Irish except as some lame reference to shamrocks or leprechauns.

At the end of the day I wonder why there’s not a month for Irish-American history or why Irish is not offered as a language. St. Patrick’s Day is a day when everyone is Irish. A day when people gather to drink and be merry but not many remember the Irish.

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