One year ago, Chicago Scots began a collaboration with local artist David Lee Csicsko to help support our heroes at Caledonia Senior Living & Memory Care. Each month we have celebrated a Scottish or Scottish-American hero featuring them on apparel, mugs and other merchandise available at our online store.
April 6th, is officially designated by the US Government as Tartan Day to recognize Scottish accomplishments in and contributions to life in America. Why April 6th? Because, many believe the US Declaration of Independence is based upon Scotland’s declaration of Arbroath – which was signed 701 years ago on April 6th 1320 by none other than the first of our Scottish heroes, King Robert the Bruce.
April – King Robert the Bruce
King Robert the Bruce reigned from 1306 to 1329 and led Scotland during the First War of Scottish Independence. After the Battle of Bannockburn, the Scottish nobility submitted the Declaration of Arbroath to the Pope declaring Robert the rightful king of an independent Scotland. Today, Robert the Bruce is revered as a nation hero of Scotland and Queen Elizabeth II is a descendant of his.
May/Mother’s Day – Mary Queen of Scots
Mary Stuart was only 6 days old when she became Queen of Scots in 1542. She was a tragic figure whose complicated life and legacy is still being discussed by historians today. Among other things she has been called the “Mother of Golf” having loved the game and Links at St. Andrews, she could speak 4 languages including Scots, French and Latin and Queen Elizabeth II is a direct descendant of hers.
June – Robert Burns
“O my Luve’s like a red red rose, that’s newly sprung in June.” Is how our June hero Rabbie Burns’ famous “A Red, Red Rose” begins which Bob Dylan called, “the greatest love song ever written.” The Bard of Ayrshire was born in 1759 and in his short life wrote numerous original works such as “To a Louse,” “To a Mouse” and “Tam o’Shanter” but he is also well known for collecting folk songs from around Scotland and sometimes revising and adding to them as with “Auld Lang Syne.” In 2009, Robert Burns was voted “The Greatest Scot” of all time by a public vote on the television station STV.
July/Lunar Landing – Neil Armstrong
In honor of the July Lunar Landing our Hero was Neil Armstrong who was very proud of his Scottish roots. Armstrong’s ancestral home town claimed him as one of their own. And just three years after his moon mission, Armstrong visited Scotland to receive the Freedom of the “Muckle Toon” of Langholm in Dumfriesshire, commenting “I consider this, now, my home town.”
August – Highland Games
Our August Heroes were the wonderful people of our extended Scottish community, like the heavy athletes, Highland Dancers and pipe band members that make our Highland Games so special. The Scottish Festival and Highland Games in Itasca is a 2-day celebration of all things Scottish. There is something for everyone at the Highland Games, whether that is watching the heavy athletics events like the caber toss, highland dance competition or listening to the largest pipe band competition in America, the Highland Games have sights and sounds for the whole family.
September – Sir Alexander Fleming
September’s Hero was Sir Alexander Fleming! Born in Lochfield near Darvel in Ayrshire, Scotland in 1881, Fleming became the most famous Scottish physician-scientist having discovered penicillin.
October – Lucille Ball
Our October hero was none other than the Queen of TV, Lucille Ball! Lucille Ball, who said “the secret to staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age,” was a strong Celtic woman, who inherited her Scottish ancestry through her father. The show made its debut on October 15, 1951.
November – St. Andrew
In honor of our 175th anniversary, November’s hero was the Patron Saint of Scotland St. Andrew.
On November 30, 1845 a group of Scots got together in downtown Chicago to celebrate St. Andrew’s day and founded the Illinois St. Andrew Society. Our inclusivity and friendliness are traits that can be traced back to St. Andrew himself.
December – Johnny Cash
While his millions of fans may have believed Cash to be an all-American outlaw, the man himself was fascinated by his Scottish roots. In the late 1970s when Cash was returning to the United States and found himself seated next to Major Michael Crichton-Stuart, hereditary keeper of Falkland Palace in the Kingdom of Fife. Cash mentioned he had heard his family originated in Scotland. Crichton-Stuart confirmed this belief since there were farms and streets in Fife that still bore the Cash name.
January – Sir Sean Connery
Born in Fountainbridge, Edinburgh, the late Sir Sean Connery was voted as “the Greatest Living Scot” in 2004, “Scotland’s Greatest Living National Treasure” in 2011 and People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man of the Century” in 1999. He was a milkman, a body builder, a Royal Navy seaman, a footballer, a golfer, a lorry driver, a laborer, a lifeguard, a model, an Oscar winning actor and a Knight. Whether portraying the world’s greatest James Bond, an immortal Spanish warrior or a Chicago Cop, he was always and will forever be a Scotsman.
February – Andrew Carnegie
Andrew Carnegie, whose life became a rags-to-riches story, was born into modest circumstances on November 25, 1835, in Dunfermline, Scotland, the second of two sons of Will, a handloom weaver, and Margaret, who did sewing work for local shoemakers. In 1848, Carnegie and his family moved to America in search of a better life. Carnegie became an American industrialist who amassed a fortune in the steel industry and went on to become a major philanthropist, eventually giving away more than $350 million.
Between 1886 and 1919, Carnegie’s donations of more than $40 million paid for 1,679 new library buildings in communities large and small across America.
March – Floral MacDonald
The story of Flora MacDonald, is one of bravery, strategy, loyalty and love. Her important role in one of Scotland’s most important, pivotal historical episodes is immortalized in the ‘Skye Boat Song’.
“Speed bonny boat like a bird on a wing,
Onward the sailors cry.
Carry the lad that’s born to be King,
Over the sea to Skye.”
Accompanied by two servants and a crew of six boatmen, Flora MacDonald famously led Bonnie Prince Charlie, disguised as Betty Burke, a spinning maid, to his escape “over the sea” after the Battle of Culloden in 1746. Poet Samuel Johnson’s paid tribute to Flora MacDonald. “Her name will be mentioned in history and if courage and fidelity be virtues, mentioned with honour.”
April – William Wallace
Our 13th Scottish hero is Sir William Wallace, who was one of the main leaders of the First War of Scottish Independence. Little is known about his early life but after the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297 Wallace served as Guardian of Scotland until his defeat at the Battle of Falkirk. The story of William Wallace has been written about by many including Robert Burns, Walter Scott and Jane Porter and, more recently he has been played by Mel Gibson in the 1996 Best Picture film Braveheart.