Springing Ahead!

Spring officially begins on the 20th.


In an unfortunate incident, on March 5th, US troops shoot at an automobile carrying an Italian journalist, Giuliana Sgrena, a hostage who had been released from captivity by Iraqi insurgents. An Italian intelligence agent, Nicola Calipari, who was responsible for the rescue of five kidnapped victims in Iraq, is killed during the mishap, and Sgrena is wounded. The 56-year-old journalist and her liberator were 700 meters from the airport when US troops opened fire on the vehicle, which they claim was speeding through a checkpoint without responding to arm signals and flashing lights. Sgrena, a veteran war correspondent for newspapers and CBS news, claims the car was traveling at 30 miles-per-hour and the driver was speaking with Italian and American officials at the airport via a cell phone about their progress and pending arrival. She also claims she saw no arm signals or lights being flashed prior to the gunfire, which killed the secret agent who rescued her from captivity.


Ten professional baseball players testify before the House Government Reform Committee to answer inquiries about the use of steroids in major league baseball.


St. Patrick's Day, March 14th, honors the patron saint and national apostle of Ireland from the late fourth century. The snakes he's famous for driving from the island are believed to be a metaphor for his removal of pagan religious practices. It is said he converted many Druid warrior chiefs in Tara to Christianity as well as baptizing thousands of their subjects in "holy wells," which still bear an inscription of the saint's name today. The traditional practice of St. Patrick's Day begins with prayers for spiritual cleansing and an offering of prayers for missionaries around the globe, which is followed by a joyous celebration of song, dance and more.


Purim falls on the 25th, and it's one of the most joyous Jewish holidays on the calendar. The celebration is based the Biblical book of Esther. Esther's interactions with Ahasuerus, King of Persia, helped to bring about the saving of the Jewish people in Persia amid a plot to destroy them by an advisor to the king, Haman.


Here are some links for March:


St. Patrick's Day Customs & Traditions - Features details about the religious figure plus information about a variety of customs associated with the Irish holiday.


Judaism 101: Purim - Learn about the history behind the Jewish holiday.  Includes facts about other holidays and associated traditions.


Washington Post: Baseball's Day of Reckoning - Features details about the congressional inquiry into the use of steroids by major league baseball players, including Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and others.