Honoring our heritage, molding our future

For the past few weeks, our community and communities around the world have celebrated the lively history and culture of the Irish and Irish Americans. The month has been filled with parades, bagpipes, religious celebrations and community experiences highlighting the dynamic culture and its impact on society. To show my enthusiasm and appreciation, I was proud to again co-sponsor a resolution with fellow state Reps. Kevin Boyle, Michael Driscoll and Tim Hennessy that officially designates March 2019 as Irish American Heritage Month.

With our resolution, we noted the contributions of Irish Americans to Pennsylvania and the nation as a whole in their countless feats in military service, academia, business, literature, science, politics, athletics and beyond. It is an important and wonderfully deserved resolution that appropriately recognizes Irish Americans and their historical services and contributions.

And while we designate March as Irish American Heritage Month and celebrate accordingly, it’s important to keep the trials and triumphs of ancestors who came before us in our thoughts each and every day. Our accomplishments and achievements today are largely due in part because of those who dared to fight for a fairer, more just society in days past.

Serving in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, I keep the lessons and wisdom I’ve gained from looking back in history with me each time I vote. When I fight for fairer wages and stronger unions for workers, I remember those before me who sacrificed greatly working in the coal mines just to put food on the table for their families. When I advocate for greater and diverse investments into education on all fronts, I am reminded of those who risked so much coming to a new country for the possibility to provide their children and their children’s children a brighter future. When I emphasize the need for increased regulation of landlords and fair loaning systems, I do so understanding the conditions many living in tenement buildings had to endure.

In each and every action I take, I keep in mind the positive outcomes that can be found when we stand together and strive for greatness in our community, much like those who came before us. That’s why I will always vote for social and educational programs, protections for senior citizen services and support for veterans and first responders.

The old saying goes, “Actions speak louder than words.” It’s simply not enough to honor our ancestors by wearing green or eating corned beef and cabbage. Instead, it’s imperative we support and cheer for even more for the next generation of pioneers fighting for a better tomorrow for their families and for our communities. They may not all be Irish, but they surely share the same quest for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

I hope you will join me in celebrating and supporting these pioneers. When we strive to celebrate the diversity, hard work and tenacity of these individuals today, we shine a beautiful light on the legacy of our forefathers and mothers.