Letter to the Editor: Another take on the St. Patrick’s parade

To the Editor:

I must take exception to a statement made by Bill Forry in his editorial titled “Flynn’s right: Southie’s parade needs a re-set.” He states: “Perhaps it’s time to consider splitting up the dual holiday. Celebrate Evacuation Day in Southie, home to Dorchester Heights, the pivotal historic site from which the liberation of Boston was achieved on March 17, 1776. The date is arguably more important than the saint’s day in the Boston context.”

I respectfully point out that there would not be an “Evacuation Day” if it were not for the Irish who venerate Saint Patrick.   It is estimated that over 25 percent of Washington’s Army was Irish. 

When the British sailed out on evacuation day, the fife and drums of the Continental Army serenaded them with the tune “St. Patrick’s Day in the Morning.” Washington’s General Orders for the day set the password and countersign for safe re-entry into the city as “Boston” and “St. Patrick,” respectively.  Apparently, Washington could not separate Boston from St. Patrick; we shouldn’t try, either.

In fairness, let us realize that the issue is not the parade that is an insult to the hardworking volunteers who put the parade together.  I have not seen any reports that there were any incidents regarding parade participants.  The parade organizers are not law enforcement officials; they cannot control what happens on the sidewalks or beyond. 

No, let’s put the blame where blame belongs: the promotion of St. Patrick’s Day by media and business as a saturnalia.  Why are we surprised when Amazon sells shirts such as “Instant Irish, Just Add Beer” or ‘I May not Be Irish, but I can Drink Like One” that we have behavior like this?  There is a reason that marketing firms give out t-shirts.  Yet when the Irish American community objects to these items, we are called too sensitive and humorless. The parade does not sell liquor; perhaps more focus should be placed on businesses who see the day as nothing more than “the greening of the till.”

Instead of blaming and moving the parade, perhaps Mr. Flynn and your paper can help us reclaim St. Patrick’s Day by focusing on the true story of the courage and sacrifices of Irish immigrants and their descendants by embracing and promoting Irish American Heritage Month in our schools in parity with other heritage month celebrations.

Neil F. Cosgrove
Ancient Order of Hibernians

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