2009-07-03 / Columnists

Point of View

JULY 4th - 65 YEARS LATER
"The Rabbi's Personal Column" Rabbi Allan Blaine Temple Beth-El, Rockaway Park

June 6, 2009 marked the 65th anniversary of D-Day 1944 one of the great turning points in world history. Some of you who read this were not yet born. Others spent that time in the crucible of fear, pain and death in Nazi dominated Europe or in America at war.

As a young boy in the Bronx I recall that day as if it were yesterday. It began with jubilation turned into realization. Everyone gathered almost without advance preparation in Synagogues, and Churches. I remember attending the Mt. Eden Center with my parents and seeing the fear and hearing the weeping of mothers and fathers who realized the terrible toll which the liberation of Europe would exact.

Years later on Memorial Day I stood in Memorial Circle outside our Temple and recited prayers in memory of young men in the Rockaways who gave their lives during the Second World War. I was astonished at the number of American Jewish boys in the Rockaways and from our own Temple who died to save the world from Nazi horror. When we sing "Land of the Pilgrims Pride, Land Where My Fathers Died" we know that while we may not have come with the Mayflower, we have played a prominent role in the history of this nation.

What turned the tide and enabled the free world to defeat the German colossus? Was it technology, science, natural resources, American knowhow, sacrifice, courage? All of these and one thing more. A never before seen spirit of unity, purpose and tolerance swept the country. The war brought out the best in everyone. The country suddenly came together to preserve our way of life, and to set free suffering humanity. We were pursuing high purposes, and bringing redemption and hope to a long suffering world. Young boys coming home on furlough were greeted as heroes.

Now, 65 years later our nation faces grave threats from a nuclear armed North Korea, a soon to be nuclear armed Iran and many other troubles and travails throughout the world. America is still at war with casualties mounting in both Iraq and Afghanistan and in terrorist acts even within our own hemisphere.

In these times the words of the Prophet Isaiah should be our mantra.. "No weapon forged against you will succeed". As long as our great nation resounds with a common purpose; as a multi-ethnic nation, a role model in integrating people of all color, race and creed into one nation. A nation willing to storm the cliffs and fight any battle against fascism, tribalism, terrorism and racism. This is our strength now and has been our strength for all the generations going back to July 4, 1776 when a new and vibrant nation declared independence, democracy and representative government; a nation pledged to be of the people, by the people and for the people. It's good to be an American.

Happy 4th of July.
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