By Steve Tawa

By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Irish-American community gathered at Philadelphia’s Irish Memorial at Front and Chestnut Streets, to celebrate its heritage. Dignitaries laid a wreath to honor Irish immigrants and the pivotal role they played in history.

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As young girls in green stepdanced and young boys sang, the young at heart applauded all things Irish.

“Happy St. Patrick’s Day.”

And while Mayor Jim Kenney says it’s easy to trivialize green beer and funny hats on St. Patrick’s Day, the grandson of Irish immigrants says the memorial symbolizes the arrival of the hopeful Irish at the docks of America.

“It’s about who we are and where we came from, and more importantly, why we came here in the first place.”

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Especially during the 1840’s period of Irish Starvation.

“They didn’t have papers. They were undocumented immigrants who no one wanted, and were told to go back where we came from.”

Fast forward to 2016:

“Sounds familiar about what we’re hearing today in the national discourse in a presidential election, which is disgraceful.”

The mayor says we need to know our history, remember it and apply our history to people coming here now for the same reason.

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“Cause they’re poor, downtrodden, politically and religiously oppressed, and this is the only place in the world, where they can find safe harbor.”