Bob’n’along, Wed. March 17, 1999

The history and legend of St.Patrick and the shamrock

Even if you’re not Irish, this is no blarney!
    It’s a great day for the Irish! Faith and begorrah! St. Patrick’s Day, and y’can be sure there’ll be the wearin’ o’ the green.
This past weekend, weather prognosticators were calling for temperatures to rise to the 60s today. Will we make it? That’s a lot of melted snow.
    I thought I’d pass on a bit of information on St. Patrick’s Day and the Shamrock. I derived some material from the St. Patrick’s Day website for use in the column.
    It seems true history and legend are intertwined when it comes to St. Patrick. Did you know he was born in Scotland? And that he was kidnapped and sold in Ireland as a slave?
    Before he made his escape to the continent, he became quite fluent in the Irish language, eventually was ordained as a deacon, then a priest and finally as a bishop. It was Pope Celestine who sent him back to Ireland to preach the gospel to the people.
    Possibly you’ve heard that Patrick was most known throughout the world for having driven the snakes out of Ireland. It has been told that he was standing upon a hill, using a wooden staff to drive the serpents into the sea. They were thereby banished from the shores of Ireland.
    While not the first to bring Christianity to Ireland, it was Patrick who encountered the Druids at Tara, abolishing their pagan rites. He converted the warrior chiefs and princes. He baptized them and thousands of their subjects in the Holy Wells that still bear that name.
    St. Patrick died 493 A.D., tradition has it, and was buried in the same grave as St. Bridget and St. Columba — at Downpatrick, County Down. Another legend says St. Patrick ended his days at Glastonbury and was buried there. The Chapel of St. Patrick still exists as Glastonbury Abbey.
    The great anxiety displayed in the Middle Ages to possess the bodies — at least the relics of saints — accounts for the discrepancies in tradition as to St. Patrick’s burial place.

    Did you know that the Shamrock — it was once called the “Seamroy’’ — symbolizes the cross and the blessed trinity? Before the Christian era, it was a sacred plant of the Druids of Ireland since its leaves formed a triad.
    The well-known legend of the Shamrock connects it definitely to St. Patrick and his teachings. Preaching in the open air on the doctrine of the Trinity, he is said to have illustrated the existence of the Three in One by plucking a Shamrock from the grass growing at his feet and then showing it to the people of his congregation.
    The legend of the Shamrock is also connected with that of the banishment of the serpent tribe from Ireland by a tradition that snakes are never seen on trefoil and that it’s a remedy against the stings of snakes and scorpions. The trefoil in Arabia is called shamrakh and was sacred in Iran as an emblem of the Persian triads.
    The trefoil, being a sacred plant among the Druids and three being a mystical number in the Celtic religion as well as all others, it’s likely that St. Patrick must have been aware of the significance of his illustration.

Whether you’re mostly Irish, partly Irish (as I am) or not Irish at all, have a great St. Patrick’s Day.



Exponent Editorial,Wednesday,March 17, 1999

The Medicare fix should be a bipartisan effort

    As it stands right now, Medicare should go broke in about 10 years, just as baby boomers are leaving the workplace. We hope that in that time, Congress and the White House can rescue the program without descending into political sniping.
A Medicare commission finished a year of work on Tuesday without coming up with enough votes to approve their recommendations. Now we can expect the finger-pointing and the blame game. Maybe they should just get it out of their systems and then maybe they can get to work on saving Medicare before it’s too late.
    The commissioners have been working to not only make sure the program remains solvent, but to upgrade a creaky, inadequate old federal program. Among the proposals is a plan to have seniors pick from a menu of medical coverage. The more expensive plans would have the recipients paying out more of their own money.
    Another proposal would raise the age for eligibility for Medicare from 65 to 67. And more affluent seniors would have to shoulder more of their own medical costs.
    If past history is any clue, getting a plan passed by Congress and signed by the president will be difficult indeed. Already the majority leader in the Senate is accusing President Clinton of politicizing the issue. The president, criticizing the commission’s recommendations as falling short of what’s needed to rescue Medicare, told reporters onTuesday that he will submit his own plan.
    In addition to the back and forth between Congress and the White House, there will be lobbyists, including the American Association of Retired Persons, who will be looking out for their own interests.
    It is our fervent hope that in this age when the least little thing becomes a political hot potato, that cooler heads can prevail. Medicare is too important to be left twisting in the wind while politicians shriek at each other on the talk shows.

Today’s editorial reflects the opinion of the Exponent editorial board, which includes William J. Sedivy, John G. Miller, Julie R. Cryser, James Logue, Kevin Courtney and Cecil Jarvis.



Telegram Editorial, Wednesday, March 17, 1999
Our country needs a Republican balance in government

    Many in the media and in the Democratic party are predicting a voter backlash from the Clinton impeachment proceedings that will decimate the Republican Party in the 2000 elections. But we would suggest leading Democrats may already be shooting themselves in the foot when it comes to the 2000 presidential election.
    It looks like Vice President Al Gore may sail to the Democratic nomination with little or no opposition. His chief rival, House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt of Missouri, on Monday threw his endorsement to Gore. That pretty much promises the former Tennessee governor clear sailing to the nomination. The only bump in the road might be any rise in the fortunes of Sen. Bill Bradley of New Jersey.
    Of course the August 2000 convention is light years away in political time. Gore could find a way to blow his stranglehold on the nomination. Other would-be presidents have done it before. Consider Democrat Gary Hart, who some hailed as a can’t-miss John Kennedy clone.
    Republicans should hope Gore holds it together and is the eventual nominee for the Democrats. He has the look of a loser when November 2000 rolls around.
    First, he deserves his image of being stiff and boring. He does not create excitement and does not communicate a vision of how he would make the country better. His best pitch would be to say he would run the country like President Clinton but without the sideshow of alleged and real scandals.
    A USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll shows the vice president to not stack up well in match-ups with any number of prospective Republican opponents. The poll shows George W. Bush, the Texas governor who seems saddled with the Republican frontrunner label, clobbering Gore by 15 points if the election were held today. If Elizabeth Dole were the Republican nominee she would dust Gore by 8 percentage points, according to the poll.
    A strong Republican presidential candidate who could wrest the top office from the Democrats would likely provide a coat-tail effect to keep the Republican majority in the House and the Senate. That would be important for the economic future of the country.
    A Republican-controlled legislative branch combined with a Republican in the White House is the country’s best bet to see continued control of government spending and future tax cuts. And that is what allows private capital to be available and consumer spending to be strong — two essential elements to keeping the American economy warm.
    If the Democrats control the White House and the Congress, you can bet federal spending will begin to spiral out of control again and all the work toward eliminating the deficit will go down the tubes. The country needs a strong Republican balance in government to provide a reality check. With that balance we are more likely to see a government that understands what this country can afford to do — and should do — for its people.

Terry Horne
Telegram Editorial Board



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