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St. Patrick's Day

National Flag of Ireland close-up above people crowd, city street, traditional carnival of St. Patrick's Day
Svetlanais/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Friday is St. Patrick's Day, which marks the death of the fifth-century Irish saint.

While celebrated across America today, it hasn't always been so. In the 1800s, brutal penal laws enacted by English rulers, coupled with the epic potato famine in Ireland, forced thousands of Irish immigrants to seek refuge within the United States.

Between 1820 and 1920, 4.5 million Irish citizens immigrated to America, most arrived with little but the clothes on their backs. In response to the massive influx of Irish immigrants, the Ku Klux Klan and the Know Nothings, a national political party popular at the time, began to promote anger toward the Irish. Many job advertisements ended with the line, "No Irish need apply."

Time changed the public sentiment. After helping build New York's Erie Canal, Irish Americans became fixtures in education and politics. John F. Kennedy's election in 1960 fully assimilated the Irish community. On Friday, that don't forget that America is a country made up mostly of immigrants and former slaves. Today, we can all claim to be Irish because God has smiled on us all, no matter where we were born.

This is Dr. Scott Morris for Church Health.

Dr. G. Scott Morris, M.D., M.Div, is founder and CEO of Church Health, which opened in 1987 to provide quality, affordable health care for working, uninsured or underserved people and their families. In FY2021, Church Health had over 61,300 patient visits. Dr. Morris has an undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia, a Master of Divinity degree from Yale University, and M.D. from Emory University. He is a board-certified family practice physician and an ordained United Methodist minister.