Waynedale Political Commentaries

Celebrating American Disabilities Month ~ Voice Of The Township

Friday, March 17th is Saint Patrick’s Day, and those who celebrate their Irish Heritage here at the Wayne Township Trustee Office will be ‘wearing the green’ as we close out the week midway through the month of March.

Celebrants have been wearing green to show their loyalty to Ireland (the Emerald Isle) since at least the 18th century. But maybe not everyone knows why. Find the traditional Irish nationalist song, “The Wearing of the Green” and you’ll hear an explanation.

This song recounts the “lengths the British were prepared to go to in their attempt to suppress Irish nationalism in the 18th and 19th centuries.”

Legend has it that St Patrick, the “Apostle of Ireland” used the shamrock (from the Irish word for ‘young clover,’) to explain the mystery of the Holy Trinity. Over time, the shamrock became more than a religious sign; it came to be seen as a symbol of Ireland; of Irish nationalism and independence. And its color, green, soon took on the same meaning. Towards the end of the 18th century, the rebel organization, the United Irishmen adopted green as their official color as they planned their insurrection against British rule.

The British authorities began to see the color green as a dangerous symbol that could rally Irish nationalist fervor, and they wanted to stamp out such displays of Irish identity and independence. They banned people from wearing green as an open symbol of their Irish identity. Irish newspapers published notices stating that wearing such items as green ribbons or handkerchiefs as “an emblem of affection to Ireland” were forbidden, a move seen by the Irish as both outrageous and ridiculous. In “The Wearing of the Green” the opening verse conjures up their sense of absurdity with the line “the shamrock is forbid by law to grow on Irish ground.” And as the song’s refrain reports: “They’re hanging men and women for the Wearing of the Green.” (Hear it at irishmusicdaily.com/wearing-of-the-green)
So this is a good song to learn if you want to impress your friends with your knowledge of why so many of us are wearing green on the 17th of March.

And before the month gets away from us, we want to recognize that March is Disability Awareness Month.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about 25% of the United States population has a disability. That is one out of every four people. In Indiana just under 1.4 million adults, or 27% of our citizens fall into this category. With numbers like that, chances are you know a person with a disability—maybe at work, maybe in your home, maybe you help care for someone in your family with a disability, or maybe you, yourself, live with a disability.

In our country we all have many freedoms—to move about, to go where we want to go and do what we want to do; but those freedoms may not work for all of us. One may be free to cross a street, but if they depend on a walker and can’t make it up or down a curb, that freedom becomes lost. A flight of stairs will stop any person traveling by scooter or wheelchair from entering a building whether or not it’s a free public space. The more we see the world through the eyes of someone with a disability, the more we realize that there are all kinds of barriers and restrictions to access freedoms that many of us take for granted.

The Americans with Disabilities Act has been in effect since 1990, and its aim was and is to “level the playing field” for people with disabilities. This has been a great thing for our country as it has meant many changes allowing the disability community greater access to services and more tools to fight discrimination. But we must stay vigilant. There is still much to be done to ensure equal access, and the ADA still needs more enforcement to fulfill its goals of free access.

Disability Awareness Month is a reminder that communities work best when we can all take an active part. “People are the heart of community, and when you embrace diversity and inclusion, everyone feels at home and can make their own contributions to the greater good.”

Wayne Township Trustee - Austin Knox
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Wayne Township Trustee - Austin Knox

Trustee Austin Knox is a Fort Wayne native who, on January 10, 2020, was unanimously elected trustee at a caucus of Democratic precinct committee leaders of Wayne Township. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer