As we approach March 2021, the fact that our communities are still battling the COVID-19 pandemic will make many of our traditional celebrations of our Irish heritage through parades and public events untenable for a second consecutive year. While it may not be noted in the mainstream media, we know that this pandemic has hit our community hard. Many of our brothers and sisters in the hospitality industry have lost family businesses that kept the Irish tradition alive across generations. Many of our cultural institutions, schools of Irish dance, and music will be deprived of the fundraising activities that they usually engage in during March. When we finally come out of COVID-19 we, as Hibernians and Irish Americans, must rededicate ourselves to rebuilding the institutions that have kept our heritage, traditions, and culture alive.
The first step in that process is recognizing the issue, the need for action, and the light of hope. Therefore, I am asking all of you to make an extra effort to see Irish American Heritage Month formally proclaimed in your state and communities. Sadly, as evidenced in last year’s notice that St. Patrick’s day events were to be restricted it became clear that many of our elected leaders have no clue of the significance of the day; to many it appeared that St. Patrick’s day was little more than a party that could be “celebrated next year”. “Next year” has now come, and it is only right and proper that these elected officials publicly acknowledge the impact to our heritage and mitigate the void left in their proscribing public celebrations for a second year by them publicly and visibly acknowledging the contributions that generations of Irish American men and women have made.
For your convenience as a starting point, I have included a template letter for you to send to your Governor and State Legislators (see links at bottom); please feel free to modify it to adapt it to reflect your local community and your voice. Given, that mail is often delayed by screening; please consider faxing if that is an option open to you.
I also ask again that you please consider reaching out to your local media to ensure that there is coverage of Irish American Heritage Month and that the contributions of the Irish are not allowed to fade away. Making lemonade out of lemons, what a great opportunity to focus on the reasons behind Irish American Heritage Month and St. Patrick’s Day and promote the contributions of the Irish in the community, specifically the AOH.
Many of us likely remember celebrations of other ethnic communities that are no longer held; we must take the lesson, guard ours, and build the foundation to come back stronger than ever.
National Irish American Heritage Month Chair