THE OBSERVANCE of St. Patrick’s Day is almost as old in America as the Irish themselves, and some say they arrived in the sixth century. It is a day of stirring memories, recalling ancient learning and primal abundance-for as often related, at a time when the inhabitants of a nearby island were still living on acorns, all the people in Roscommon had the gout!
It is a day of dedication as well, as purely American as it is Irish, recalling for all that ours is a nation founded, sustained, and now preserved in the cause of liberty. None more than the Irish can attest the power of that cause once it has gripped a nation’s soul.
It is well to love liberty, for it demands much of those who would live by it. Liberty is not content to share mankind.
John Boyle O’Reilly, who came to Boston by way of a penal colony in Western Australia, understood this as few men have. “freedom,” he wrote, “is more than a resolution–he is not free who is free alone.”
To those who in our time have lost their freedom, or who through the ages have never won it, there is a converse to this message. No one–in the darkest cell, the remotest prison, under the most unyielding tyranny–is ever entirely lost in bondage while there are yet free men in the world. As this be our faith, let it also be our pride-and to all who share it, I send the greetings of this day.
JOHN F. KENNEDY