Sunday, April 2, 2017

National Scottish-American Heritage Month and National Tartan Day

Photo by PAC Tom Sperduto (
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
National Scottish-American Heritage Month is celebrated during the month of April by community groups in both the United States and Canada. Scottish-Americans (a.k.a. Scots-Americans) are Americans whose ancestry originates in Scotland. Scotch-Irish are those Scots from Lowland Scotland and Northern England that migrated to Ulster in Ireland. Many of these came to the United States during the 18th century.[1]

The 2010 U. S. Federal Population Census reported that 1.7% of the population were of Scotch-Irish descent and 1.9% were Scottish.  The Mosaic, the newsletter for the U.S. Naval Health Clinic Annapolis, reported these famous Scottish-Americans in History[2] :

  • Neil Alden Armstrong is of Scottish, Irish and German ancestry. He is famous for saying, “That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” as the first person to walk on the moon. Before becoming an astronaut, Armstrong was a Navy Officer and served in the Korean War. Armstrong flew over 78 missions over Korea for a total of 121 hours in the air, most of which were in January 1952. In 1962, Armstrong joined the NASA Astronaut Corps and in 1966, made his first space flight as command pilot of Gemini 8, becoming NASA's first civilian astronaut to fly in space. Armstrong received many honors and awards, to include Presidential Medal of Freedom, Congressional Space Medal of Honor, and Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy.  Armstrong died in Cincinnati, OH on August, 25, 2012 at the age of 82.
  • David “Davy” Crockett was born 17 August 1786 and was of Scottish, Irish, English and French-Huguenot decent. Crockett was a 19th century American folk hero, frontiersman, soldier and politician. He is commonly referred to as “King of the Wild Frontier” and had a reputation for hunting and storytelling. After serving in the militia of Tennessee, he was elected to the Tennessee state legislature in 1821 and in 1826, was elected to the U.S. Congress. In 1836, Crockett took part in the Texas Revolution and died at the Battle of the Alamo.  After his death, Crockett continued to be credited for acts of mythical proportions, popularized by stage plays and almanacs, that led to movie portrayals in the 20th century and widely best known as one of the best American folk heroes.
According to the Scottish American Society of South Florida, some (unconfirmed) contributions made to our country by the Scots are:

  • Scots led the fight for American independence
  • Scots established the structure of the American government (Based on the Scottish Presbyterian Church organizational model)
  • Scots established many school systems, universities and libraries
  • Scots brought their inventions and spirit from Scotland to share with everyone.

National Tartan Day, held each year on April 6 in the United States, celebrates the historical links between Scotland and North America and the contributions Scottish Americans have made to U.S. history and society. April 6 is the anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath, the Scottish Declaration of Independence, which was signed on that day in 1320. The American Declaration of Independence was arguably modeled on that inspirational document.[3]

Frequently, Scottish culture is celebrated through festivals known as Highland games. Various events include Whisky tastings, eating Haggis, Caber toss, Hammer throws, and traditional Scottish dances. The largest celebration this year is the 19th Annual New York Tartan Day Parade to be held on Saturday, April 8, 2017.

The Arizona Legislature proclaimed April 6, 2017 as Tartan Day in the State of Arizona. House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) 2020 states:
   Whereas, Arizona is proud to celebrate its ethnic diversity, and the people of Arizona are fortunate to have organizations, families and individuals who are passionate about their ancestry; and
     Whereas, the Scottish Declaration of Independence, signed on April 6, 1320, and the Scottish National Covenant of 1638 strongly influenced the framing of America's Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution more than 400 and 100 years later, respectively; and
     Whereas, National Tartan Day has been celebrated on April 6 across the United States since 1997 and recognizes that Scottish Americans have played an important role throughout American history. As some of the first immigrants to settle in America, Scottish Americans have made enduring contributions to our society in the arts and sciences, politics and government, technology and mathematics, military service and many other fields; and
     Whereas, the people of Arizona recognize the heritage of Arizonans of Scottish descent and the symbolism and pride that come from the wearing of the tartan and colors of their families, ancestral home and country of national origin.
Be it resolved by the House of Representatives of the State of Arizona, the Senate concurring:
     1.  That the Members of the Legislature proclaim April 6, 2017 as Tartan Day in the State of Arizona.
     2.  That the Members of the Legislature encourage all Arizonans to observe and celebrate Tartan Day with appropriate ceremonies and dress, including the tartans representing our state, the Arizona Flag tartan and the Arizona Scottish tartan, and to recognize the many contributions that Scottish Americans have made to our great State and Nation.
The Arizona tartan, "The Scottish Register of
Tartans", (

Commissioned by a joint committee of Arizona State's Scottish societies, this tartan was designed by Dr Phil Smith and proclaimed by Governor Symington in December 1995. Colours: green is for the forest that covers half the state; brown for the desert; azure for copper, white for silver; yellow for gold; red for the Native Americans and the red, white and green stripes for the Mexican population.

The annual Phoenix Scottish Games were held in March, rather than in April.[4] However, Tartan Day will be celebrate on Thursday, April 6, 2017 in the Gallery of the AZ State Senate Building for the reading of HCR 2020. Visit the Caledonian Society of Arizona website for details.


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