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Message on the Observance of Saint Patrick's Day, 1998

March 12, 1998

Warmest greetings to everyone celebrating Saint Patrick's Day. On this day dedicated to Ireland's great patron saint, I join millions of other Americans across our country in remembering with pride the roots of our Irish heritage.

As it has been for so many immigrants, America has always been a beacon of hope for the Irish people. And the Irish people have always been a source of light and energy to keep that beacon shining brightly. They arrived with little. But the Irish did not come to America emptyhanded. They brought with them strong arms and an even stronger spirit that would help to build our nation's great canals, bridges, and railroads; that would wrest coal from Pennsylvania's mines and raise the skyscrapers of New York City. They brought with them a love of words that enriched American journalism and literature. They brought a great reverence for education and built schools across the country renowned for their scholarship and social conscience.

Perhaps their greatest gifts to America have been an abiding love of liberty and a patriotic spirit. Irish Americans have served with distinction in every American conflict, from the Revolutionary War to the Persian Gulf, and their keen sense of social justice made them among the first and most effective voices for labor reform. Generations of Irish Americans entered public service to reach out to those in need— to feed the poor, find jobs for the unemployed, fight for racial equality, and champion social reform.

The United States continues to draw strength and vision from our multicultural, multiracial society. As we celebrate Saint Patrick's Day once again, we remember with special pride the gifts of Irish Americans: faith in God, lilt and laughter, love of family and community, and an unswerving commitment to freedom and justice that continues to enrich our nation.

Best wishes to all for a wonderful celebration.


William J. Clinton, Message on the Observance of Saint Patrick's Day, 1998 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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