July 4th 1776 – Independence Day

July 4th 1776 – Independence Day

Happy Independence Day to all my friends here in America and  Americans all over the globe, especially those in Ireland 

I am about to embark on a whole new chapter of my life here, so learning about the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights will be on my to do list. Over the next few years, all going well I will be able to apply for a US citizenship and will need to know these documents fairly well. 

Declaration of Independence

But today is all about American Independence day, July 4th. This is my second July here in the USA and this year will be different from last year for a couple of reasons. The main one is that my son Robert is not here this year, choosing to stay in Ireland but travel here for Christmas instead. The second reason is the flu, not me but my darling wife isn’t well so there won’t be any tennis, lying beside the pool or fireworks. 

But as usual I start of to talk about one thing and end up rambling about something else. I read an interesting post on Irish Central about Irish signatories to the Declaration of Independence and I have included a link here Irish Central – Irish who signed Declaration of Independence. It’s little articles like the one linked that I love finding and reading. The link between Ireland and America goes back to the formation of the USA. 

And now for another ramble, I love history, especially Irish history, and am slowly learning a lot more about the Irish in America because of sites like Irish Central and a magazine I receive Irish America. Like my post on social media posts and politics, I like to read as many differing opinions as long as they have the facts correct. 

And now back to where I started this post, I will be expanding my knowledge of American history beyond what I already know with lots more reading, researching and listening to various opinions. 

So have a great July 4th, be safe around fireworks, and have lots of fun but remember what the day signifies. July 4th 1776, the day America declared itseof am independent nation.  

As a footnote I have added images of both the American Declaration of Independence and the Irish Proclamation of 1916. If you read the Irish Proclamation you will notice that it mentions America, thus cementing a link between the 2 countries that had existed for over a century already.  

Irish Proclamation 1916
American Declaration of Independence 1776
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Documented Immigrant

Documented Immigrant

I have always tried to avoid politics, and religion, on this blog but sometimes something comes along and it sparks an something in where my journey is now. I am a ‘legal permanent resident’, thus making me a ‘documented immigrant’ There is so much in the news and being mentioned in political circles about immigration these days maybe it’s time I mentioned it here on my blog. 

I would never ever have attempted to come to the USA undocumented. Even in the early days of our planning we went through the stress of applying for a K1 Visa, even though it put our wedding date at risk. But we wanted to do things correctly and not take any chances. 

After our wedding we applied to Adjust our status, from an engaged to married couple, thus allowing me to apply for my Green Card and start working and become a legal permanent resident. Our journey through the visa process isn’t over yet as next year, Feb 2018, we have to apply to have the conditions of my visa and residencey removed, another process that will take approx 14-18 months. All these processes are stressful and we have to meet certain criteria for the removal of conditions to prove our marriage is a bona fide one. 

All this is because of fraud within the Visa system, but at the end of it all we will have followed all the rules and have done everything requested by the US government. After that the path to US citizenship opens up and that will be a path I will more than likely go down. 

Now the elephants in the room, illegal immigrants and politicians. Both affect how our process goes, politicians by saying uneducated things, trying to be popular and playing to the crowd and illegal immigrants by not doing things the correct way in the first place. Both have reasons for doing what they do and some have no choice but to either play to the crowd or be illegal but sometimes the knock on effect isn’t what they expected. 

I look forward to the day that I am finished with the Visa process but even when I apply for US citizenship I will always be an immigrant, but fully documented from day 1. 

Ireland/America

Ireland/America

A month ago we moved into our new house and tonight Leanne’s parents will come and visit and stay with us for a few days and will get to see our new house in real life for the first time. Hopefully my Mam will travel over from Ireland and get to see the house at Christmas this year. 

We are all settled in, all the furniture and appliances are delivered even if it took a few attempts by the shops to get it right! Photos are on the wall, flag pole for the Irish and American flags to fly is up, flowers are in the pots and the front yard is looking well for the ‘in-law’ inspection over the next few days. 

And that leads me onto the purpose of today’s post, my new in laws here in the USA. Bob and Terri, Leanne’s parents, have been absolutely brilliant in their support of us from day 1 when we first mentioned our plans for getting married and even getting this new house. I always love to have them visit and enjoy chatting about all sorts of stuff with them. It has helped me acclimate to US culture having those conversations, learning to understand how life and culture of things work here. 

It was completely different back home in Ireland as I took everything for granted as it was how I had lived my life for 47 years. Moving to the US was a huge step, a bit of a leap of faith but having the support, assistance and guidance from my in laws, as well as friends and family on both sides of the Atlantic certainly helped. 

I have noticed that I think of Ireland and home a lot but the little bouts of missing Ireland and being homesick are less and less. It will always be home, it will always be the country that helped make me who I am today but now I am lucky enough to experience life in a while new country and culture with my new family, and for that I am thankful. 

My new Irish flag will arrive on Thursday and I will fly it outside the house with pride and when it comes to change it to the USA one for certain holidays, Memorial Day, July 4th etc I will proudly fly the flag of my new adopted country outside our house. You may be able take the man out of Ireland but you can’t take Ireland out of the man.

One year old

One year old

So tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of when St Pat’s to Spartans launched and I posted my first introductory post. And what a year it has been. There have been some great highlights, some low moments and charting my way through life here in the USA after living my whole life in Ireland until Nov 2015 has been fun. 

I have tried to keep the posts lighthearted and easy to read but at the same time using the blog as a journal of what I am thinking, doing and how life is going. I think I have succeeded for the most part but at times it’s difficult to find time to put up a good post that hits all the targets I want but I keep trying. 

I hope people have enjoyed the blog and it will continue as I move on with my life here in America. Last June I started my first job, moving onto my second job in October and at the end of February I will finally start a job that I feel can be a career. The opportunity to do this new job would never have happened in Ireland as I wouldn’t have made it passed the screening process due to not having an honors degree.  

So after a 4 week process of interviews, online assessments, practical role play assessment and a final face to face interview, I received a job offer from Geico in mid January and I start training for my new role as an Auto Damage Adjuster soon. It will be 3 months training with lots of study, a tough learning curve and a whole new career to look forward to.

I have enjoyed my time at Hennessy Ford, some excellent people work here, and it gave me another opportunity to work closely with people, which helps in the assimilation into the USA. I enjoy chatting to work colleagues, learning new things about life here, and I notice I talk a lot slower now due to these interactions. So if anyone is buying a car soon, drop into Hennessy Ford on Peachtree Industrial Blvd and say hi and they will look after you. 

I will finish up this post with a little thank you. Thank you to everyone who has read the blog, liked or shared a post, or sent me comments.  Thank you to all my friends do back home in Ireland for a wonderful visit home in December and your ongoing friendship and support, to my friends here in the USA for your friendship and support, to my family for being there for my Mam when I couldn’t, to my in laws, I would be amiss if I didn’t thank you all for the wonderful support from day 1 and my final thanks has to go to my wife, Leanne. Thank you honey for supporting me in everything I do, for being my friend, partner and wife. 

Update

Update

Just a quick post to update the blog on what’s been happening recently. So I arrived back in the USA on December 30th after a wonderful 2 weeks spent with Leanne in Ireland visiting my family. So much has happened since I left Ireland in November 2015 it was great to get home and spent some time with my Mam, brother, sister and friends. 

The goal of our trip was to spend time with my Mam, especially the first Christmas since my Dad passed away last July. I got to say my farewell to my Dad and to spend the time I needed to with my Mam. There was plenty of time in our trip for quality ‘Us’ time for me and Leanne, and the highlight of that has to have been our 3 day trip to Rome. A city thst has the Wow factor around every corner and well worth the visit. 

And so our trip came to an end and a s a surprise for Leanne I managed to get us upgraded for business calls for the transatlantic flight back to America. But before we could enjoy the flight I had to go through US Customs and Immigration. Leanne, as a US citizen, is able to go through US customs and immigration really quick while as a green card holder, it takes me a little longer. But as usual the staff at customs were efficient and even though it took an hour, I was cleared and ready to join Leanne for our return trip. That bit was always going to be a bit nerve wracking but it has to be done and I am thankful it went smoothly. 

And so we are back stateside and life continues. When I look back over the last 12 months and 2016, it has been a momentous year, a 1 year wedding anniversary, my Dad passing away, Robert coming to visit, travelling with Leanne to new cities and counties, starting my career here in the USA, and generally really settling into life here. Being home did remind me of some of the things I missed most beside family and friends, a decent Irish pint of Guinness, a packet of King Crisps, a roast beef carvery dinner in the pub and most of all, proper chipper chips with yummy fried chicken! 

There could be some exciting news coming my way soon so keep an eye out on the blog for the latest as I continue my journey in America with wife. They say hone is where the heart is, and mine is firmly based here in the USA now even though I will always hold Ireland and everything Irish very close to me. Being Irish is what defines me, what made me who I am today and mixing it with my American life can only make it more interesting. 

So what’s new? 

So what’s new? 

Well it’s nearly been 9 months since I made the trans atlantic move from Ireland to the USA. Life has settled down a lot since those hectic first few months when we were planning a wedding, getting lots of paperwork done for next step in visa process, applying for social security number, driving license and awaiting work clearance. Add in learning a new culture, living in a new country, missing home, getting married and becoming a couple living in the same house and it has been a whirlwind of a life since last November. 

We have had multiple high points (getting married, Robert visiting to name just 2) and probably only a couple of low points (Leanne’s Grandmother passing away and my Dad passing away) as our new life together has developed and my own life here has continued its transition from living alone in Ireland to being part of a married couple and working in the USA. When I consider back home I would only have dreamt of starting my own business, here I have actually gone and done it. It’s a kind of feel the fear and do it moment in my life. It’s a slow, daunting process as things start of really slowly but hope word of mouth and some lucky break will help me to what I love full time, in the meantime I will continue to work my day job and go from there. 

My time here has been good, learning how to do things the ‘American’ way but still holding onto my Irish identity. I still read an Irish newspaper most days with my subscription to the Irish Times and it helps me keep up to date with happenings back home and give me an Irish slant on the upcoming USA presidential election in November. It’s hard to believe I will be here a year when the election takes place and by the time the next one comes around I will be able to apply for US citizenship. This is a topic I will definitely revisit later in the blog as my Irishness is very important to me but so is embracing the country I am now making my life in. 

Leanne has always encouraged me to go back to playing football (soccer) and making friends, and even though I would consider all of Leanne’s friends my friends too, it’s has been great to not only get out a kick some football but to meet new people and become part of a group that share a common love of football. I will always call soccer football as that is what it is, Association Football, and it’s one of the things I am learning when it comes to playing the game here. The whole terminology is different, the way the game is played and maybe even coached. I started of back in April playing 7 a side and just this week played my first 11 a side game in over 20 years. And surprisingly, even though it was tough the next day, my fitness levels have got better. 

I know I mentioned life had settled down since the hectic first few months afte moving over, well it has but it hasn’t stopped altogether. In the next few months before Christmas we have 2 weddings, Thanksgiving and a trip back home to Ireland to see family and friends. 

The blog will continue as I approach my one year anniversary here in the USA as well as a one year wedding anniversary which we hope to spend in Europe, but definitely Ireland. I hope people continue to read and enjoy these little snippets of my story of my new life here in America with the occasional post reminiscing about times past in Ireland.


 

Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day Weekend

This coming weekend is Memorial Day weekend and I will be joining my wife and her/our friends on a beach trip to Santa Rosa beach in Florida. This weekend marks the official start of the summer vacation period and it is bookended by Labor Day at the end of the summer.

But Memorial Day has a very serious reason for being in existence, it is to remember members of the armed forces who gave their lives in service to their country. Not to be mixed up with Veterans Day (Nov 11th) which is for all living veterans of the armed forces.

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Military Veterans Grave in Decatur, GA

As usual for me when something new comes up I have to do a small bit of research. And it’s funny the things you find out, Memorial Day was founded after the American Civil War in 1868, when the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans founded in Decatur, Illinois, established it as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Considering I now live in Decatur, GA, it’s a strange one that Memorial day has its origins in another Decatur!

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Memorial Stone in Decatur Cemetery
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Plaque on Memorial Stone

Being a former member of the Irish Defence Forces I can appreciate Memorial Day and it is something that we back in Ireland are really only to start recognize as a nation. The Defence Forces always had commemorations for fallen comrades and I was lucky in my role as photographer to have a front row view of those ceremonies every year. A few years ago a new monument was erected in Dublin to remember all members of the Irish Defence Forces who had died, both at home and abroad.

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Irish Defence Forces Memorial Monument

As this weekend I will be away in Florida the blog will be taking a little break as well but I will be back with a post or two next week. Also keep an eye out for a podcast on http://www.trailblazers.irish featuring myself and the story behind stpatstospartans.irish and the story of me in America.