George V. Reilly

Independence Day

I have an ambivalent relation to the notion of patriotism because all too often those who most loudly proclaim themselves to be patriots are the worst sort of jingoistic, know-nothing, blowhard­s—be they Trump supporters, Brexiters, or Irish na­tion­al­ists.

And yet, for all the flaws and failures of the American Experiment, there are still things to celebrate. America's optimism and can-do spirit, although much abraded in recent years, is still exemplary. Millions continue to flock here, drawn to the land of op­por­tu­ni­ty. The Founding Fathers created a great and lasting democracy, albeit with a franchise and a set of rights that had to be widened several times. The world can't get continue.

Federal Holidays Inadequately Observed

Today is Martin Luther King Day, a day that honors the legacy of a great American. It's a Federal Holiday, but only 37% of employers give off Martin Luther King Day. Apparently, 37% is an all-time high for MLK Day and it's also higher than the other three holidays that most Americans don't get, Pres­i­dents' Day, Columbus Day [sic], and Veterans' Day.

I've worked in America for a quarter century, but it was only at the first job, when I was a Brown University employee, that I got those secondary Federal holidays off.

Not only is America one of the least-generous countries for vacation days, it's also one of the least generous continue.

Memorial Day

Of all the major American holidays, Memorial Day and Labor Day are the most divorced from their ostensible meanings. To most peo­ple—my­self in­clud­ed—they are little more than the brackets of summer, three-day weekends of barbecues and sun.

Memorial Day com­mem­o­rates U.S. men and women who died in military service. I don't think I know anyone who actually observes that, including Emma, a USAF veteran. If I knew some military families, I might think otherwise.

Veterans Day (November 11th) honors all veterans, peacetime or wartime, living or dead. Few adults get Veterans Day off, so it's poorly observed.

Labor Day originated as a parade to exhibit to the public “the strength and esprit continue.

Leaving Ireland, part 1

On the 9th or 10th of January 1989, I flew from Dublin to New York. That was the last day that I ever lived in Ireland.

I came to the U.S. on a tourist visa. It was no lie. I had a round-the-world ticket and I would go on to Australia in early March. In June, I left Australia and traveled to Bangkok and Hong Kong. Sometime in July, I landed back in Ireland to settle up my affairs. I fit in a trip to the South of France with some old friends.

In August, I would return to America to attend graduate school. I have lived in the continue.

The Other Inauguration

Twenty years ago tomorrow, I attended Bush Senior's In­au­gu­ra­tion. By accident.

I was on my first solo trip to the United States, having arrived in New York the previous week. There I had purchased a 30-day unlimited standby ticket with Delta. It cost me only $400, as I could produce my round-the-world ticket.

For no par­tic­u­lar­ly good reason, I decided to start the 30 days with a trip to Washington DC. There were museums there and it was nearby.

I hadn't been paying close attention to the news, and it was only when I got to Washington that I realized that George H.W. Bush's in­au­gu­ra­tion was to be be held the continue.

Giving Thanks

My first Thanks­giv­ing took place nineteen years ago. I was a 24-year-old graduate student, recently arrived at Brown. One of my of­fice­mates and her husband insisted that I and a Swedish grad student accompany them to her parents' house for Thanks­giv­ing dinner. It snowed that day, the first snow of the winter. We set off in what seemed like a blizzard, up I-95 into Mass­a­chu­setts. The day was cold, but the reception was warm. A houseful of Patrice's relatives made us most welcome.

Ever since, I've always sat down to a large, convivial dinner at Thanks­giv­ing. At first, others welcomed me into their homes. For the last decade, Emma and I have played host to continue.

Torture your senators

I just sent the following letter to my senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, as well as to the Seattle Post-In­tel­li­gencer's Letter Page:

How has America come to this? Is the United States of America truly about to repudiate the Geneva Convention? Is the Senate about to let the President decide when and whom to torture?

This is foul. This is wholly un-American. This is deeply immoral. Every civilized society abhors torture.

How can we claim to be spreading Democracy in the Middle East at the same time that we commit torture? Are we to lose all of our moral standing in the eyes of the world under this wretched Ad­min­is­tra­tion?

Tell me continue.

The Color of Love

I just listened to This American Life on the radio. I am con­tin­u­al­ly amazed at just how good this show is. They find so many compelling stories.

This week, Ira Glass in­ter­viewed Gene Cheek, who wrote a memoir, The Color of Love: A Mother's Choice in the Jim Crow South.

In the early 1960s, Cheek's divorced mother fell in love with Tuck, a black man. They lived in a small town in North Carolina, and the mis­ce­gena­tion laws were still on the books. They dated clan­des­tine­ly, but eventually their re­la­tion­ship become known. The police would stop by regularly to harass them. After she had a baby by Tuck, her continue.

U.S. Citizen

(Originally posted to Home at EraBlog on Fri, 25 Jul 2003 06:50:20 GMT)

As I mentioned in my Toast­mas­ter­s' speech about nat­u­ral­iza­tion, I decided on September 11th, 2002 to become a U.S. citizen.

This morning, I had my interview with the Bureau of Cit­i­zen­ship and Im­mi­gra­tion Services (BCIS, formerly known as the INS).

This afternoon, I was sworn in as a U.S. citizen at the Seattle INS Office. Eighty-three other new citizens were sworn in at the same time. Many were Filipino, Vietnamese, Mexican, or Eastern European. Only three others, all Brits, were from Western Europe. We were gathered into a stuffy room with an overflow crowd of relatives and friends. continue.

Naturalization

(Originally posted to Toast­mas­ters at EraBlog on Fri, 16 May 2003 06:06:39 GMT)

I gave the following speech to Toast­mas­ters on January 29th, 2003, as Speech #2, "S­in­cer­i­ty".

NAT­U­RAL­IZA­TION

Fellow Toast­mas­ters and Guests, last September, on the first an­niver­sary of 9/11, I made one of the biggest decisions of my life: I decided to apply for American cit­i­zen­ship, to become nat­u­ral­ized.

Like many of you, I am an immigrant. I have spent most of my adult life in this country. Fourteen years ago, I came to the US from Ireland to earn a Masters degree. I moved to Seattle in 1992, the same year that I became a permanent resident. I continue.

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