Service Members, Family Members and civilians of Fort Drum,
On St. Patrick’s Day, many of you will don green and celebrate this holiday with good cheer and perhaps a pint of beer.
But before you do, that I want you to understand and appreciate the history behind this Irish holiday in remembering one of Ireland’s patron saints.
Ironically, the real St. Patrick wasn’t even Irish. He was born in Britain to an aristocratic Roman family. When he was a teenager, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and made a slave in Ireland for the next seven years. Folklore tells that Patrick escaped and successfully returned to Britain, where he reunited with his family.
The story continues that he was inspired to return to Ireland to do good deeds.
Patrick did not have an easy time in Ireland, and it’s been said he was beaten, harassed and admonished.
It’s been recorded that he died on March 17 in the fifth century, and for centuries he was forgotten. Eventually his accomplishments were honored, and he was canonized as the patron saint of Ireland. The anniversary of his death became a day of feasting for the Irish community.
The people of Ireland have observed this day as a holiday for more than 1,000 years. On St. Patrick's Day, Irish families worship in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon, waiving seasonal prohibitions against eating meat. The people would dance, drink and feast on the traditional meal of Irish bacon and cabbage.
The first parade held to honor St. Patrick's Day took place in New York City. On March 17, 1762, Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through the city. Along with their music, the parade helped the soldiers reconnect with their Irish roots, as well as with fellow Irishmen serving in the English army.
In modern-day Ireland, St. Patrick's Day was traditionally seen as a religious occasion, and Irish laws directed that pubs were closed on March 17. However, beginning in the mid-1990s, the Irish government began a national campaign to use interest in St. Patrick's Day to drive tourism and showcase Ireland and Irish culture to the rest of the world.
In the United States, St. Patrick’s Day has become a day to celebrate Irish culture without the overt religious tones. American celebrations typically mandate wearing an article of green clothing, marching in parades with traditional Irish music and bagpipes, and of course, for some, green beer. In many cities, St. Patrick’s Day is considered the most lively and spirited celebration of the year. As a descendent of Irish immigrants, growing up in Boston, I can attest to the pageantry and tradition of this celebration.
Our neighbors here in the North Country will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day from March 16-18 with a variety of parades, music, cultural exhibits and races. I encourage everyone to safely celebrate the Irish culture, get to know our North Country neighbors and have a good time. I would also remind you that with all good things, moderation is the best course of action. Be responsible, courteous and safe. The residents of the North Country appreciate what we do for them and support us very much. Return their respect by being respectful to them.
Needless to say, too much fun will lead to trouble if you do not plan ahead for a safe ride, a designated driver or know how to call a reliable taxi cab to get you home safely. Look out for your Family Members, buddies and fellow Soldiers. Do not let a night beginning with joyful celebration turn into a mistake from which you will be challenged to recover.
Climb to Glory!