THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release March 1, 1996
IRISH-AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH, 1996
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
I am pleased to count myself among the over 40 million Americans who can trace their heritage back to Ireland. Like so many of our forebears, immigrants from the Emerald Isle came to this country seeking dignity and prosperity, and they brought with them traditions rooted in the values of family and faith. Some arrived on our shores even before our Nation was founded, lending their energy to the establishment of our Republic; nine sons of Ireland signed the Declaration of Independence, and our first President, George Washington, proudly claimed Irish ancestry.
The largest wave of Irish immigration occurred 150 years ago, when more than 1 million people left Ireland for America as potato blight and famine devastated their homeland. These sons and daughters of Erin transformed our cities, stimulating industry and commerce from New York to Boston to Chicago. In pursuing the American Dream, they set an example of courage, hard work, and determination that was to be followed again and again by hopeful newcomers.
Today, Irish Americans celebrate this history and the contributions that their brethren have made to all aspects of American life -- providing leadership in Government, the law, business, finance, literature, and the arts. Renewed interest in Gaelic culture has led to university courses in Irish studies, and hundreds of Saint Patrick's Day parades across the country attest to the vigor of Irish American communities. This month and throughout the year, let us recognize the gifts brought to America by children of Ireland and honor the strengths they have added to our national character.
In tribute to all Irish Americans, the Congress, by Public Law 103-379, has designated March 1996 as "Irish-American Heritage Month" and has authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of this month.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, WILLIAM J. CLINTON, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 1996 as Irish-American Heritage Month. I call upon all the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of March, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-six, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twentieth.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON
# # #