2000 Southern California Rose of Tralee - Erin McCreary Hart

“The unifying feature of my experience was the emphasis the Roses placed on one another.”

For a Rose, traveling the final stretch of road into Tralee brings a mixture of excitement and sadness. While you are entering the pinnacle of your experience as Roses, this journey also signals that you are nearing the end of your time together in Ireland . In 2000, as we made the trip into County Kerry, our Perth Rose Louise Lowry was struggling to write a poem to recite as her Television party piece. Upon learning this, we began working as a group by contributing one line at a time until it was finished. The unifying feature of my experience was the emphasis the Roses placed on one another. There are countless moments I will never forget. Moments that in retrospect feel as if they were shared with women I have known my whole life. Over the past eight years- the Roses from 2000 remain very close. Together, we’ve endured some of life’s toughest challenges. We have seen each other through serious illness, losing parents and tragically even one of our own Roses in late 2001. We have celebrated our first homes, our marriages and the births of our children. In all this time, it has never escaped me that the sense of sorority we have can’t be explained. It can only be experienced. To those who would call this sentiment cliché, I will simply submit that a friendship between Roses is comprised of far more than sentiment, and the situational euphoria experienced in Ireland. Our friendships are woven from the integrity, character and Joie de vivre of our beloved Irish culture. What is more, each of us is proud to have been part of an institution that celebrates a young woman’s intellect, poise, experience, education and potential- all the features I believe make a person worthy of the name “role model”. In 2000, my class of Roses included a family law barrister, a pediatric special needs therapist, a nurse, and a human rights advocate to the United Nations. Regardless of post, title, education or status, each of these women has contributed tirelessly to their communities and to one another- and I am proud to be counted among them. In the years since I wore the sash and crown, there has scarcely been a single element of my life that has not been touched by the friendships I have gained, the lessons I learned or the confidence I found through being a Rose. In every element of my life I draw upon the courage, wisdom, advice and careful grace I have witnessed in each of those 27 women. Each of them has helped me to cultivate a better version of myself, and for this reason, being a Rose has truly shaped my life. At the end of our journey in Ireland, it was truly appropriate that our Perth Rose Louise Lowry would serve as the final Rose to appear on television in 2000. After all, her party piece had become more than a poem. Instead, it was a message from all of us. “…this is not the end. We’ve only begun. In our hearts, together- we’ve already won”

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