My father was extremely proud of being Irish, though I would learn later, our family was also part Polish with a smattering of Russian in the pot. See my post on the Polish Jews in Ireland. Polish is one of the most popular languages in Ireland right now, with many traffic signs in both English and Polish. Though my father would never admit to being anything but Irish, it wasn’t our Irishness that he instilled in me but something more valuable: that one is worthy, no mater what anyone tells you. Though the Irish disease consumed my father in the end, he was an intelligent proud man. He could answer every trivia question on Jeopardy, something I find, even now, astonishing. I’m lucky to get one answer right on this highly competitive game show, where only the most brilliant are allowed to participate.
My father was also in the army, during the Korean Conflict; it was a war not categorized as important but many of his friends unfortunately met their doom, most having no knowledge of why they were in Korea in the first place. Politics! The Vietnam Conflict was more of the same. The country was full of protestors and people yelling, “Make love, not war.” Many Americans were not supportive. The same thing happened in Ireland. It was called The Rebellion of 1916. After the Irish Volunteers and Irish Republican Brotherhood ceased the General Post Office on Easter Monday, Dubliners were anything but grateful. WWI was raging and Irish tempers flared. Dublin was one of the most poverty stricken cities in Europe and people were starving. Some joined the British army so they could send money home to their families. To the rebels this was perfect timing. While the British were engaged in war, the rebels struck for independence. No one saw thought of their actions as heroic however. They were just a bunch of hooligans trying to make trouble. During the conflict with the British army, much of Dublin was destroyed; and it was more difficult than ever to get bread. If anyone left their home they likely were killed by stray bullets. The rebels surrendered after just five days. As they marched past the very countryman they were fighting for, they were heckled and spat on although later they would change their position when they learned every man who had signed the Irish Proclamation was executed by the British, one being tied to a chair because he was already dying, another soon after being married in Kilmainham Gaol.
Now I have never been a fan of politics. In fact I don’t even watch the news for I believe the American media only reports that which benefits their own political agenda. In the early days of our country there were two newspapers, one for each political party, making it abundantly clear which direction they were slanting their story. The news of today is not that clear and we only report on the negative it seems..
Here is a story told to me by my friend, Deborah who is a retired airforce medic. To my knowledge it has not been reported. During the Afghanistan War, many of our American wounded flew on transport planes between Germany and the United States. President George W. Bush flew with some of these soldiers, prayed over their shattered bodies, many of them missing limbs. He comforted them best he could, along their painful journey instead of flying in in the comfort of every American president. In researching this essay I came across a non-biased news feed and a clip from an author/ journalist, Ann Jones discussing her book, They Were Soldiers–How the Wounded Returned from America’s Wars. She is a first-hand witness to soldiers during the Afghanistan crisis. Check this out and or her book as well. I’m guessing most of what she says was not in the papers.
So what would my dad say about all this and being Irish? Perhaps he would have said focus on the positive for there is always too much hate and hardship in the world and if you think about it too much you might not get out of bed in the morning. Believe in yourself and do what is right. Above all else do the best at everything you do and have be proud. You’re Irish for God’s sake! Have an Irish story of your own? Why not tell us about it here?