Where we came from

‘T’is the day when we remember:

Wearing “Erin go brah” pins to school. The boy soprano who sang “A little bit of heaven fell from out the sky one day” and made the nuns cry. Corned beef and cabbage for dinner. (Potatoes, too, but of course they were on the table every night.) Telling the story of great-grandfather who sailed away from Ireland and left his mother tearful on the dock.

It’s the day when all of us who have a drop of Irish blood in us remember where we came from. I think of the Burns family, and the Phelans and the Careys, who fled starvation in a place they loved, but which had nothing for them, and made something of themselves here in this nation of immigrants.

They left behind family members they would never see again, and brought family members over after they were settled, each new arrival standing on the backs of those who got here first. My great-grandfather Patrick Henry Burns was the head of a household that included a brother from Ireland and a brother-in-law from Germany in addition to his own wife and kids.

The micks joined the Germans and the Virginia planters on other branches on the family tree, chain migrants all, and I’m proud to say they helped make this nation great.

Shame on us if we forget.