Brothers, we are about to enter the month of March, a month when we celebrate the contributions of the Irish to our Nation and the World and remember our Patron Saint St. Patrick, a man of faith, compassion, and humility who created a light from Ireland that illuminated the world in the Dark Ages and continues to shine. We have a lot to be proud of; we have a lot to celebrate.
Unfortunately, many see our holiday as having no more depth than a pint of green beer, a green bacchanal combining the worst elements of Halloween and a college kegger. The only green others see is the greening of the till by exploiting stereotypes and tropes to make a quick buck at the cost of a noble Heritage. The typical battle cry of this lunacy is “Everyone is Irish on St. Patty’s Day”, an excuse to engage in irresponsibility at the cost of someone else’s reputation
You brothers all by your dedication to our faith, heritage and charity represent what it truly means to be Irish American. In typical Irish fashion, you get “the good work” done throughout the year and are too busy doing it to brag about it.
Unfortunately, this dedication means in many of our communities that the only time the broader community actually sees the Hibernians is during our St. Patrick’s day celebrations. It is in recognition of this fact that we ask as you participate in these activities to remember you are an ambassador for the Order and our heritage. We can only influence the behavior of others, but we can take responsibility for ourselves. When parading with your Division dress as though you have pride in your membership and heritage, perhaps consider business casual rather than the jeans. Leave the face-paint to the kids; it is a testament to the wonder of their innocence, they can pull it off. Leave the “Cat in the Hat” headgear to the guy who dances with the lampshade on his head at the party. Perhaps wear your Division shirt or jacket and promote the Order rather than a multinational beverage company, or worse yet, items that violate our oath by “caricaturing and defaming the Irish People.” Before anyone says, “It is just a shirt,” ask yourself why shirts are given out as part of every major marketing effort? Because they are proven ways to get a message out, make sure yours sends the right one.
Let us march in pride of Commodore Barry, the Irish Brigade, Nelly Bly, Anne Sullivan, and countless other Irish American men and women, and specifically those in our own family history. We are not “once a year Irish” but 24×7 Irish Americans who take time out once a year to celebrate.
We often quote the saying, “To be Irish is a blessing, to be a Hibernian is an honor.” Let us appreciate the blessing; let us live up to that honor.