Jennifer Rahel Conover


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St. David vs. St. Patrick orMy Saint Can Beat Your Saint Any Day!By Jennifer Rahel ConoverAnother year has rolled around and here we are once again edging up on St Davids Day. Before you ask, let me just say that St David is the patron saint of Wales. With the St Patricks Day frenzy well underway, poor St David is often overlooked. Well Im tired of it. Besides most people dont even realize that St. Patrick was actually Welsh, not Irish!I dont know of anyone who isnt fond of the Irish and around St. Paddys day almost everyone claims to have at least a drop or two of Irish blood running through their veins. However, it makes me sad that most people dont even know who St. David is and even fewer celebrate his day. Poor public relations I guess! St. Davids Day comes on March the 1st, well before St. Paddys Day on the 17th. Saint David or Dewi Sant, as he is known in the Welsh language, was a monk, abbot and bishop, who lived in the sixth century. Perhaps the most well known story regarding Dewi's life took place at the Synod of Llanddewi Brefi. They were voting on whether or not Dewi was to be elected Archbishop. A great crowd had gathered, but when Dewi stood up to speak, one of the congregation shouted: "We won't be able to see or hear him". At that moment the ground under Dewi rose up until everyone could see and hear him clearly. Not surprisingly, he was instantly elected the next Archbishop. It may not be quite as dramatic as driving the snakes out of Ireland but it was quite a crowd-pleaser nonetheless. In Wales St. David is revered every bit as much as St. Patrick is in Ireland but no one in the US has ever heard of him it seems, much the same way no one knows that St. Patrick is actually Welsh. Its really most unfair and I felt I had to do something to rectify the situation.In his day Richard Burton probably did more for St. David than anyone else ever has by including a clause in every one of his stage and movie contracts that he would not work on March 1st, St. Davids Day. By this time you may have guessed that my family hails from Wales, the little country west of England across from Ireland., but were all Celtic after all so whos to say there wasnt a bit of fraternization between them? They crossed that small stretch of water often enough.A surprising number of people dont even know about Wales! I once had someone ask me, Oh yes, isnt Wales a lake in central Florida? Of course a few enlightened souls know our most famous duo, King Arthur and his wizard, Merlin were Welsh. And a few more even know that Dylan Thomas, Richard Burton, Anthony Hopkins, John Rhys Davies, Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey, Timothy Dalton, the beautiful Catherine Zeta-Jones, singing sensation Charlotte Church and opera star, Bryn Terfel are also Welsh but did you know that there have been many famous Welsh Americans? The Declaration of Independence, that most famous of documents, was drafted by Thomas Jefferson, who spoke and wrote Welsh. He, and sixteen others of Welsh descent, signed the document ushering a new era into the world. (And Thomas Cahill says the Irish saved civilization? Bah humbug!)As far as presidents of the United States weve had our share of those, too. They were John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Q. Adams, William Harrison, Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, Benjamin Harrison, Calvin Coolidge, and Richard Nixon. Among vice presidents there have been John Nance Garner, Richard Nixon, and Hubert Humphrey. Secretaries of State include Daniel Webster, William H. Seward, and George Catlett Marshall (also General of the Armies in WWII). Among the Chief Justices of the Supreme Court are John Marshall, Charles Evans Hughes, and Roger Brook Taney.Other famous Welsh-Americans were Samuel Adams, one of the founders of Harvard University, Elihu Yale, one of the founders of Yale University, Herman Humphreys, one of the founders of Amherst University, Morgan Edwards, one of the founders of Brown University, Samuel Jones, one of the founders of Brown University, Morgan Lewis, one of the founders of New York University, Rowland Ellis, one of the founders of Bryn Mawr College (Bryn Mawr means big hill in Welsh), William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania, Roger Williams, founder of Rhode Island, Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy, Robert E. Lee, General of the Confederate Armies, Goronwy Owen, poet, classical scholar and headmaster William & Mary College, , Merriwether Lewis, leader of Lewis and Clark Expedition, William Dean Howells, author, critic, and editor, Henry M. Stanley, (Born John Rowlands), newspaper man who "found" Dr. Livingston, Oliver Evans, one of the pioneers of Fulton's steamboat, David Wark Griffiths, pioneer motion picture producer, Frank Lloyd Wright, architect, Luther Hammond Lewis, Founder of Big Brother Movement, John L. Lewis, pioneer Labor Movement leader, Norman Thomas, socialist leader, Lowell Thomas, radio commentator and explorer, Bob Hope, Hollywood and T.V. star (son of Agnes Townes, Welsh concert singer), William George Fargo, Founder of Wells, Fargo Express Co., Daniel Boone, frontiersman, Harold Lloyd, actor comedian, Ray Milland, actor, Jack Daniel, of Jack Daniel's Bourbon, Evan Williams, maker of that famous bourbon, Ellis Potter Earle, founder of Chase Manhatten Bank and financier of the Empire State Bldg.Now Im beginning to sound like the Irish with all their blarney so we may very well be related after all. But I feel a lot better having gotten this off my chest and as you can see Im doing my best to set the record straight once and for all! We wear green on St. Davids Day just as the Irish do on St. Paddys day. However, its customary in Wales to pin a leek or a daffodil to your lapel or hat in honor of the day. So throw away your shamrocks and don your leeks, everyone. Lets keep this on an adult level, but a la Jesse Ventura, my Saint can beat your Saint any day even if they are both Welsh! So hoist your glass of green beer, no sense wasting it, Iechyd da (good health) and Happy St Davids Day to you all!
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