On this Memorial Day, I would like to pay tribute to veterans of a long ago conflict. My family were driven from their homes in Ireland in the 1840s due to starvation and oppression at the hands of the English. The trip to America was not an easy one as they were crammed into the holds of the coffin ships. Estimates say that 15% to 20% of them died on the trip across the Atlantic. When they set foot in this country, the nation did not welcome them with open arms. My family landed in New Orleans rather than the better known ports of Boston and New York. In fact, New Orleans received the third largest number of Irish Immigrants during the "famine". A few short years later, the Civil War began. My family enlisted along with everyone else, eager to show their loyalty to their adopted country. They served with honor and integrity for a cause that was perhaps doomed from the start. A few died but most came back and lived long productive lives. There are still some immigrants and the children of immigrants serving in our Armed Forces today. They have quite a bit in common with my ancestors.
I often think about the quote from Sgt. Kilrain in Gettysburg when he mentions the Irish fighting on both sides of the Civil War. "We came over here in the same boat only to end up killing each other in the land of the free." So today I'd like to remember my Irish immigrant veterans who fought valiantly for a cause that was not truly theirs to begin with and with their blood purchased the acceptance of their people in this country.
My name is Lee Hutch and I am a Half A$$ Historian.