The New Jerusalem

Posted: Sep 11, 2006 12:00 AM
NOTE: This is a reprise of the column written for September 11, 2002 - one year after. America had re-booted itself and the country was moving forward. Rich

----- Let the river run;
Let all the dreamers wake the nation. Come. The New Jerusalem.
- Carly Simon "Let the River Run"

Another cup of coffee in yet another airport. A well-known political reporter, also waiting for another plane, sits.

In the manner of desultory discussions in airport coffee shops, truth happened: "This," the reporter said waving an arm, "The United States of America, now, in our lifetime, is the Promised Land."

Perhaps that was the true motive for the attacks of a year ago: A realization by our enemies that this IS the New Jerusalem.

Various translations of Genesis 12:1-3 conform, generally, to the Standard Revised King James:

1: Now the Lord said to Abraham, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you.

2: And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.

3: I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves."

America is a land made up almost entirely of poor outcasts from somewhere else. Nearly every person in the United States today is descended from someone who, either by choice or by force, went from their country and went from their father's house.

This has created a place of great contradictions. And wonderful ironies.

This is a place which considers classical learning an accomplishment of modest value. Yet we expend enormous amounts of our national treasure on an intricate network of public and private grammar, middle, and high schools; of community colleges and vocational schools; liberal arts colleges and great universities - all to train our young people to think and do. Freely.

This is a place where the furious drive to create wealth is held as a glorious standard of accomplishment. Yet we hold, in even higher regard, people who have spent their lives stretching out a loving hand to people in desperate need of help.

This is a place which measures industrial output with a pride usually reserved for marks on the closet door in the bedroom of a growing child. Yet we place extraordinary value in our parks and forests and natural wonders.

This is a place where political passions often run, like the tide beneath a new moon, perilously high. Yet we accept, with but a moment's regret, the election of an opponent.

This place, this New Jerusalem, has been that way since ... in the beginning.

In a small churchyard in Alexandria, Virginia there is a humble monument to an Unknown Soldier of the Revolution. These are the words on his tomb:

Here lies a soldier of the Revolution whose identity is known but to God.

His was an idealism that recognized a supreme being.

That planted religious liberty on our shores;

That overthrew despotism;

That established a people's government;

That wrote a Constitution setting metes and bounds of delegated authority;

That fixed a standard of value upon men above gold; and,

Lifted high the torch of civil liberty along the pathway of mankind.

In ourselves his soul exists as part of ours:

His memory's mansion.

A year ago our enemies tried to darken liberty's torch. Yet that torch continues as a powerful lighthouse; Guiding those who are searching even the most fragile pathways to liberty in even the most distant land.

And our Constitution still sets the metes and bounds of delegated authority. Not just in America, but as a marker wherever people pray - and fight - for freedom.

And we strive, every day, to make our national soul worthy of being his "memory's mansion."

And so was made, as Genesis promised, "a great nation."

God HAS blessed America.

The new Jerusalem.