On the backs and brawn of the Irish, American cities rose and bridges spanned, and railroads forged west to unify a continent. They offered supreme sacrifice on its battlefields. One hundred and fifty years past, the gallantry of the men of the Irish brigade on the hallowed ground of the American Civil War still inspires, still captivates the conscience.
And they found comfort in its communities. In America's cities large and small, the Irish populated neighborhoods, built congregations and weaved their culture into the collage of humanity that is our melting pot. Once relegated to servitude and seclusion, the Irish found that the American experience provided the dignity that St. Patrick wanted for them — the promise that their hopes and dreams could be realized.
America was conceived and created as the beacon of hope on that horizon, and it was here that the Irish people first came ashore. As an American prayer on this feast of St. Patrick, let us resolve to preserve the principles that allowed it to kindle and rekindle the divine spark in the Irish spirit. As Americans, it is our birthright. As free people, it is our destiny.