The people mentioned in the last few articles lived in a far different world. Our world is much more complicated and diverse. The tax laws have changed. We are no longer confined to a small area where transportation is simple. The population of Chicagoland has grown immensely over the years and our Illinois Saint Andrew Society membership is scattered over 75-100 miles making it difficult for many to attend meetings and events. The Internet has led to great changes in how we communicate. We are now trying to reach third and fourth generation Scots. We no longer marry within the Scottish community as did Joan Pinkerton and William Chalmers. Scots no longer seek out other Scots for business partners.
To my knowledge, the Illinois Saint Andrew Society is the only viable Scottish organization in the greater Chicago area. Chicago once had many strong clans which held monthly meetings. They are all gone. The Highland Association which at one time was said to be the largest Scottish organization in America has long ceased to exist. We are more and more an invisible people. But, we are not alone with this problem. Early in Chicago history almost every ethic group had a functioning Society. To my knowledge they have all ceased to exist. Our Society alone has survived and stands today as the oldest chartered charity in our State.
We know that the Scottish vision is not dead. Ten to twelve thousand people attend our Highland games every June. In January, there are numerous Burns dinners conducted in our area. Hundreds still don their highland dress and attend the annual Saint Andrew’s Day celebration. Individuals still remember the Society in their wills. It is important that we maintain our vision. We must somehow reach the next generation with our proud history and Scottish vision.
In the words of George Buik: Wha’s like us? Naebody!