Celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day

Published 10:13 am Friday, March 15, 2019

Tomorrow is Sunday, March 17, and across the nation we will see and hear about how Americans are celebrating the day. And, we will say again that “All Americans seem to be Irish on Saint Patrick’s Day.

From the wonderful Irish foods to memorable Irish movies and great songs, from Irish wit to Irish drinks. From the excitement of parades in many cities to the stories of unbelievable valor on the battlefields, Irish-Americans take the spotlight.

If you want to add a significant book, with in-depth characterizations of the pioneers who brought the Irish traditions, beliefs, and hopes to this part of the country, read “Born Fighting (How the Scots-Irish Shaped America”) by Jim Webb.

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The book became a national bestseller after its publication in 1904 and is now available in a soft-bound edition. The author is an accomplished writer with seven books of fiction to his credit. In “Born Fighting” Webb describes the Appalachian Mountains as the region where his people, the Scots-Irish settled after leaving Ireland in the 18th century.

Here’s how he described those early settlers “…who made their way down the mud trail called the Wilderness Road …”

“They pressed onward,” he says, “creating a way of life that many would call, if not American, certainly the defining fabric of the South and the Midwest, as well as the core character of the nation’s working class.”

As he narrates his search for the towns and villages where his ancestors settled, he reminds the reader of the many reasons to celebrate, if not Saint Patrick’s Day, the many contributions these hardy pioneers made to the tri-state area in particular and to a great country in general.

Webb served in the Marine Corps after graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy, and his service led him to Vietnam where he became a highly-decorated military officer receiving two Purple Hearts for his valor. He praises the unique soldierly traditions of the Scots-Irish that “…formed the backbone of the country’s military, particularly in the Army and the Marine Corps.”

The book compares the service men and women to the athletes in our part of the country by noting that “The intense competitiveness that makes them good soldiers also has produced a legion of memorable athletes, business leaders and even such completely American pastimes as NASCAR racing — which evolved from the exploits of the daring moonshine runners of the Appalachian Mountains during prohibition.”

As you and your family and friends enjoy another memorable Saint Patrick’s Day tomorrow, keep in mind the book by Jim Webb, a former U.S. Senator from Virginia, that will provide a great lesson in the history of a great country.