Independence Days: 1840 and 2012

The Jerusalem (N.Y.) Gazette

July 4, 1840

Strike Up the Band! 

Our glorious nation is 64 years young today!  It’s a day to celebrate and to reflect in amazement and gratitude on the miraculous feat wrought by God through our brave predecessors!  With  unmeasured sacrifice and valor, the Greatest Generation rose up against tyranny, defeated the mightiest army on earth, and established a new republic conceived in liberty. 

When, soon thereafter, our former French friend betrayed us and our former British enemy returned to re-enslave us, our stalwart fathers and grandfathers rescued our infant nation and redeemed it for us and future generations. 

Today’s prophets of doom trumpet the great problems of our age.  The abomination of slavery.  Indian wars in the Territories.  Revolutionary rumblings in the South.  Political intrigue everywhere.  The painful but necessary assimilation of successive waves of millions of immigrants.  Grinding poverty and rampant diseases in our cities.  Repeated ruinous economic panics.  But which young nation, indeed, which nation of any vintage, is without great problems? 

Let us have faith that, united in common cause, we will honor our heroic forebears by marching forward, ever confident, to meet these and all other challenges of our and all future times….     

Happy Independence Day! 

-- A. Levine, Prop.

*****

Undoubtedly, the real newspaper(s) in the town of Jerusalem, New York printed celebratory editorials like this on Independence Day, 1840.   I think of them today because, here in the city for which Jerusalem, NY was named, the Israeli flag is festooned everywhere – on cars, from balconies, even in synagogue sanctuaries.   From my window last night, I heard fireworks booming and music playing; earlier this afternoon, jets streaked overhead in formation trailing white smoke plumes; and as I write this, I can hear children playing and adults conversing at neighborhood barbeques. 

Israel is celebrating its 64th birthday today.  The newspapers are filled with thoughtful editorials on the significance of the day.  What if Israel had not won its independence in 1948?  What if it had lost any of the many wars and other conflicts it has since faced?  How should Israeli citizens (as of two days ago, including me) view with perspective the many problems facing our nation and society?

In two months, we Americans (still including me) will celebrate our 236th Independence Day.  We will give thanks for the “blessings of liberty” that our Revolutionary Generation forebears (and G-d) bestowed upon us, and that successive generations (with vastly greater resources and other advantages than Israel had and has) were able to maintain through many wars, political and economic crises, and myriad other challenges.  

Perhaps an important lesson to remember today is that Israel is only 64 years old.  We and others should not judge our very young Jewish nation’s problems and challenges by the standards of our 236 year old American nation.  America at 64 had many severe social and economic problems, yet did not face implacably hostile neighbors, worldwide criticism, nor the existential threat of complete annihilation. 

Newspapers both in America and here in Israel tend to highlight problems, of which there are many.  But, by nations’ standards, Israel is an infant.  We should not lose sight, nor pride, in all that has been accomplished in these few years.

Chag sameach!          

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  • Independence Days: 1840 and 2012
  • Independence Days: 1840 and 2012

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