Although there are no federal holidays in March, there are several observances in the United States, two of these being Saint Patrick’s Day and Cesar Chavez Day. Here is some information about and history behind these two American celebrations.
Saint Patrick’s Day
Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated in the United States, like it is in the rest of the world, on the 17th of March. The first observance was held in one of the original British colonies and was orchestrated by the Charitable Irish Society of Boston, Massachusetts in the year 1737. Because most Irish immigrants to the new world were, unsurprisingly, Protestant, this holiday, rather than being aligned with Catholicism, was instead held in remembrance of one’s Irish heritage. Indeed, it is said that on this day everyone is a little bit Irish, but in America, this is truer than in most other countries outside of Ireland itself. Roughly twelve percent of Americans claim Irish ancestry. Although the first recorded parade was likewise held in Boston, the event taking place in another of the colonies became much more famous historically. In New York City, the first parade was conducted by Irish soldiers who marched as part of the British Army in 1766. As Irish patriotism increased, the parade in New York City continued to grow, and with the support of Irish aid societies like Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick and the Hibernian Society, the parade became not only the largest in the United States but one of the largest in the world. This year’s parade was a particularly eventful one because it marks the first time that openly homosexual individuals have been allowed to march to show not only their Irish, but equally their Gay Pride. In addition to parades, other American Saint Patrick’s Day traditions include the drinking of green beer, and the wearing of the colour green. Those who are found to be sporting another colour are lightly pinched as a form of playful remonstration. In cities such as Boston and Chicago through which large rivers flow, these waters are also dyed green to honour this festive day, as is pictured above.
Cesar Chavez Day
Cesar Chavez was a Mexican-American civil rights activist who fought for the rights of the migrant worker in the United States. Along with his wife, Dolores Huerta, he formed the National Farm Workers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers Union (UFW). Much like his contemporary Martin Luther King, Jr., Chavez believed in the power of non-violent means to enact reform, and under his lead, a number of strikes and boycotts were enacted, the most famous of which, the Salad Bowl Strike, was the largest walk out by farm workers in the history of the country. Although honoured by the Hispanic community, Chavez did not receive national attention until his death in 1993. Following his untimely demise of unspecified natural causes, not only was there a day named in his honour, but across the United States, and especially in California, there have been many parks, streets, schools, libraries, university buildings and other establishments named after Chavez.
Upcoming Events at the Second Air Division Memorial Library and Related Events in the Area
Poetry Event Scheduled at the Memorial Library
April is National Poetry Month and in order to celebrate we are hosting an evening of Great American Poems here at the Memorial Library, on Monday, April 25th, 6.30-7.30pm. It will be a fun, informal, poetry-filled evening of readings and presentations by local poets and scholars from the University of East Anglia. If you’d like, you can even bring and share your own favorite American poem (which is entirely optional but highly recommended!). This event is a lovely opportunity to meet fellow poetry lovers from the Norwich area, and a chance to hear poems you may otherwise have never encountered. Admission is free, but space is limited so be sure to book your place by either commenting here or contacting us via phone, email, or dropping by in person. We look forward to seeing you there!
The American Air Museum re-opens to the public at Duxford
In March, The American Air Museum reopened after a £3m refurbishment. The museum features one of the most extensive collections of US Military Aircraft and artefacts outside of North America. In addition to these, many interactive displays have been added with which visitors can hear directly from those men and women whose lives were shaped by their experiences of war, from the ‘War to End All Wars’ to the present day. Entry to the American Air Museum is included in general admission to IWM Duxford. Find out more at (http://www.iwm.org.uk/exhibitions/iwm-duxford/american-air-museum).
Somewhere in England- Theatre production
OPEN FOR BOOKING
Somewhere in England, an exciting new play commissioned to share the story of the 8th USAAF and their time in England, is now open for booking! The region’s leading touring theatre group Eastern Angles are presenting this fascinating and moving new theatre production, in partnership with The Eighth in the East. The play will tour right across the region and includes two site specific performance weekends at historic airfield sites, Thorpe Abbots and Debach. The play focuses upon that which is distinctly American: nylons, Hershey bars and jitterbugging to Swing Bands in the local village hall all feature. However, there was another side to this shared history of the ‘Friendly Invasion’ – a tale of segregation and of rural communities turned upside down. Kids being forced to grow up before their time, friendships forged and then blown apart and outsiders learning to live amongst the locals. You can find out more over on our special Somewhere in England page which has all the booking information for you (http://www.8theast.org/somewhere-in-england/).