The history of the AOH stretches back across the centuries, from the bogs of Ireland to the tenements of New York and coalfields of Pennsylvania, where Irish immigrants came to escape persecution and find work. Today, even after several generations in the U.S., we retain our Irish pride and identity, which informs the work of the Order.
St. Patrick brought the Catholic faith to Ireland, where it thrived for centuries, first in prosperity, as the "Island of Saints and Scholars," then in persecution under the repressive and genocidal English regime. True to the spirit of St. Patrick, the AOH has always been loyal to the Church, and works in harmony with her doctrines and laws.
As Irish immigrants arrived in the United States in the wake of persecution and starvation, they proved their loyalty to their new home. In the bloody fields of Antietam and Gettysburg, and in distant lands in the decades after, Irish Americans and AOH members have given their last full measure of devotion for this land we love.
We are a brotherhood of men bound by our shared Irish ancestry, shared Catholic faith, and shared American patriotism. We are a community, dedicated to serving the community and living out the motto of our Order: Friendship, Unity, and Christian Charity. The AOH has over 46,000 members in 46 States. From our early days protecting Catholic churches and Irish-owned businesses and homes from nativist Protestant mobs and welcoming newly arrived immigrants, the AOH has been a practical organization, serving practical ends. We unapologetically support a peaceful and just solution to the issues that divide Ireland, protection of the right to life, and immigration reform in the United States and Ireland, and we lobby our state and national leaders for these ends. We also foster the ideas and perpetuate the history and traditions of the Irish people, promote Irish culture, and encourage civic participation through our local initiatives and support of Irish American institutions.
The AOH JFK Div. #1 is a cornerstone of Dayton's Irish community. We are the oldest continuously active AOH division in the state, and we have been instrumental in fostering the growth of Irish culture in Dayton. From assisting in the establishment of Dayton's "World A'Fair" festival, to being founding members of the United Irish of Dayton to supporting Dayton's multiple Irish dance schools and Feis Society, we have paved the way for new generations to learn the heritage and culture of their ancestors and for the broader community to appreciate the contributions of Irish immigrants to the Miami Valley and beyond. Our division was renamed in the 1960s in honor of the first Irish American Catholic president, and member of our order, John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
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