Irish Flag

Today, March 17, is St. Patrick's Day, which has become a day of celebration for many Americans of Irish heritage, as well as those who love Irish traditions.

In 1991, the U.S. Congress proclaimed March as Irish-American Heritage Month. Since then presidents have proclaimed the month in honor of that heritage tradition.

In the 2020 proclamation, President Trump has also proclaimed the entire month of March to be Irish-American Month.

The Irish heritage does run deep in our national and local history. Nine of the men who signed our Declaration of Independence was of Irish origin. Presidents Andrew Jackson, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and many others have traced their roots to the Emerald Isle.

Southwest Louisiana also has deep Irish roots. Jacob Ryan Jr., the "Father of Lake Charles," was one of the early pioneer builders and founders of what became the city of Lake Charles. He laid out some of the first streets of the town.

Capt. James W. Bryan was the first mayor of Lake Charles. His great-grandfather, Christopher Kindallis O'Brien was an Irish immigrant who came from Ireland before the Revolutionary War, and then fought in that great struggle for American Independence.

One of our early Lake Charles mayors, Patrick Crowley, 1893-1899, was a native of Ireland and one of our most dynamic city leaders.

But the real meaning of St. Patrick's Day is the great Christian missionary of that name who brought the light of Christ to Ireland in the fifth century.

St. Patrick's name also honored Lake Charles' first hospital, now Christus Ochsner St. Patrick, which was dedicated in 1908. Dr. James Green Martin, a native of Ireland, and the Rev. Hubert Cramers, the pastor of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, approached the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word in Galveston, Texas, for help setting up the hospital. Many Irish Catholic nuns and priests have served faithfully in Southwest Louisiana since its earliest days, as missionaries, nurses and teachers.

Everyone can enjoy and celebrate the great Irish heritage today.

This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Crystal Stevenson, John Guidroz, Mike Jones, and Jim Beam.

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