Miseris Succurrere Disco

“I learn to succor the distressed” 

My mom recently gave me a small piece of paper the other day that belonged to my dad. It was about the size of an 8″ x 5″ photograph. On one side, it contained the meaning of our last name from the Irish perspective.

McMullen/ MacMullen – son of the tonsured one

On the other side was my dad’s family tree. I was in awe. Just a few days ago, I logged into my Ancestry DNA account and added all of the names to my family tree that I had begun on there. My tree quickly went from five names to 35 names. I was able to see photos of my great great grandfather, and to see that my great grandmother immigrated to America from Scotland with her parents. I’ve been fascinated with my genealogy since I first went to Scotland a year and a half ago, and now I’m even more intrigued.

I started looking up facts about my name, my family line, our clan’s symbols, and anything I could possibly learn. When I came across our clan website, I felt enlightened. Everything I wanted to know and more was there. I even learned that MacBeth was a part of our family line! How cool is that?!

When looking at the various symbols of our clan, I found the badge that I had been carrying around since I first went to Scotland in 2018. The badge has the motto and the claymore from the coat of arms and is enclosed in a circular belt. The motto reads miseris succurrere disco. This is Latin meaning “I learn to succor the distressed”.

This really stuck out to me. For a majority of my life – especially in my adolescent, teenager, and these more recent young adult years, I had wanted to go into some field of service. Whether that be accomplished by becoming a doctor, enlisting in the military, going to law school to be an attorney, or serving in the Peace Corps, it was always a part of what I wanted to do with my future. It still is. 

I’m not quite exactly sure what I want to do in the future. Ideally, I’d like to serve in the Peace Corps before I even figure out what to do for a career, but I do know that a career in which I can serve others is the best choice for me. Coming to understand this name badge and the clan motto upon it confirmed this for me. I cannot imagine myself even trying to do something else anymore.

Understanding my family history has allowed me to tap into this new piece of my identity and I couldn’t be prouder of it. To know that I come from a line of people who dedicated their lives to service brings me joy, and I only hope that I can continue the tradition by personally upholding this motto.

I feel at peace. I feel connected. This is the best I’ve felt in awhile.


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