I often refer to growing up in the small town of La Palma, CA, where the only highschool is John F. Kennedy High, home of the Fighting Irish. If you blink, you just might miss the city La Palma, but football at Kennedy High was a big thing back in my day. There was even talk that there would be a banner or sign made, and posted at the east and west entrance of the city that would read: La Palma - You are now entering the land of the Fighting Irish.
Of course, St. Patrick’s Day was always a big thing at Kennedy High. It was green, gold, yellow, and white everywhere we looked and on everyone. We were all united in being Irish, if not by blood, then by the heritage that we lived in La Palma and knew we would most likely attend Kennedy High School as teenagers. Every morning as school began, we would hear the announcements read over the school intercom, which started with, “Top o’ the morning to you, Irish.”
50th Anniversary Kennedy Fighting Irish Homecoming
It seems no one can agree from where the label Fighting Irish stems; yet, no one can deny these early Irish immigrants' tenacity to persevere. At Kennedy High we understood that Irish was not just an ethnicity, it was more profound than that. It was (and still is) a collective spirit. At J.F. Kennedy High, not only did the Smiths play on the Fighting Irish team, but so too did the Garcias, Mizarahis, and the Otas. The label may have began as a slur, but to be able to say, I am a Fighting Irish is now a badge of honor, which goes beyond ancestry.
I thought about it for a while. What would it have been like to say, I went to XYZ high school and we were the Lancers, or we the Saxons, or we were the Rebels, or we were the Road Runners, or we were the Jackrabbits. I couldn't imagine being anything else during high school, then a Fighting Irish.
Kennedy Graduation 2013
Kennedy Graduation 2016
When a Kennedy Fighting Irish graduates from University
When a Fighting Irish Goes to Prom but Their Date is Not
Mother (class of '84) Daughter (class of 2016) Fighting Irish Grads
In the spirit of the Irish immigrants who came to this country in the late 1800's, and fought famine, poverty, and discrimination, to help the US become what it is today, may the soul, heart, and essence of The Fighting Irish envelope you, especially during these uncertain times. In the words of an Irish blessing, "May your pockets be heavy, your heart be light, may good luck pursue you each morning and night."