This Wednesday, July 4 is the nation’s 236th birthday. Some things about Independence Day have remained the same. People associate the day with fireworks. That has been true from the beginning, even though they were called “illuminations” back in the 18th and 19th centuries. Some have changed. Independence Day was about far more than loud noises. It was once common practice for people to gather at a picnic and then for a local resident, usually the town lawyer, to get up and read the entire Declaration of Independence, right from “In the course of human events” to “we pledge our sacred honor.” We can think of only a few places where that is performed today and usually, it is only a portion of the document, not the entire text. There are probably millions and millions of college graduates who can’t even tell you who wrote the declaration not to mention what it says. The old practice of actually reading the declaration is one in dire need of revitalization.
High school graduation is upon us, which means this would be a good time to tell the current graduates everything I wish someone had told me at the time. However, I’m not sure if the things I would like to be able to tell my younger self— like “Don’t attempt to go to school anywhere where an average snowdrift in November comes up to your face,” and “The people who told you that you could create your own major with ease were dead wrong,”— would be of much use to anyone else.
Instead, this time of year leads me to contemplate an interesting puzzle, something I didn’t understand at the time I went to college at all but find endlessly fascinating now. Basically, you go to college to start achieving your dreams, but if you actually succeed in that goal, you might be doing something wrong: college is supposed to change you. If you go through the kind of intellectual growth that college really should provoke, the dreams you had when you were 18 will likely not be the same dreams the new and hopefully improved, 22-plus version of yourself treasures.
Can we really draw inspiration from a racehorse? In the movie Seabiscuit, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture, many people identified with the horse, who had been given up on by many, yet overcame his doubters to rise to the top. Those struggling through the Great Depression felt a connection with the underdog. After Union Rags victory in the Belmont Stakes on June 9, I feel that this colt could be the inspiration for today’s generation.
I didn’t wager on Union Rags in the Belmont. He did carry my hopes and dreams, as well as my two dollars, in the Kentucky Derby but finished a very disappointing seventh. So, when it came to choose a runner to back in the Belmont, my support went to Dullahan. And although I am quite disappointed by Dullahan’s effort in the Belmont, there is still something about Union Rags’ story, and perhaps how he got there that we can find hope in.
This month, Roslyn High School will hold its graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2012. Seniors will be congratulated on their achievements. They will also be receiving plenty of advice, mostly unsolicited. Here’s one more. Most students will be going off to college, new places with numerous amenities, including large libraries, with hundreds of thousands of volumes. Take advantage of those libraries and what they have to offer, namely the world of possibility. Students will also be in a dormitory, with a roommate. Try not to keep a television set in your dorm. Your studies should keep you busy enough. Think of what people can accomplish if they don’t waste their evenings watching television. Consider some famous Americans, who in the age of television, never owned a set: Sam Rayburn, the longest-serving Speaker of the House in American history; T.S. Eliot, the Nobel Prize-winning poet whose works have been translated into 39 languages; William Faulkner, the Nobel Prize-novelist whose works have been translated into 13 languages; plus Wendell Berry, the poet-novelist-essayist who is still going strong into his seventh decade. If you don’t watch television or at least not much of it at night, then 50 or 60 or 70 years from now, you’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish in this world.
Legal, financial and Parks Department teams of the Town of North Hempstead are trying to finalize a purchase of what was known as the Roslyn Country Club. If successful, this plan will reopen the facility by next season as Roslyn Park.
Due to a remarkable perfect storm of legal, financial and interest rate developments, this project can be completed at a fraction of its unencumbered value and financed at what are likely record-low interest rates that will not recur in our lifetimes. Home values in Roslyn Country Club and surrounding areas should increase immediately while other areas of the Town of North Hempstead should be positively affected, too. Detractors of the plan, many of whom seem to be political opponents of the administration, have relied on numerous distortions to weave cynical objections to the project.
There have been many false claims made about why this park would be an unsound decision for the town. Apart from the current owner’s original objections to condemnation (can you blame him?), I have not heard one other opposing claim that seems to make sense. The New York Times and The Roslyn News both reported that the owner and the town are close to an agreement for a private sale without a condemnation. If the current owner likes the deal and the town likes the deal, we should ask ourselves who is actually still opposing this, and more importantly, why they are opposing it.
Now Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is taking a go at it, and has charged a commission with increasing efficiencies and improving outcomes at our schools. But if Cuomo’s team focuses on the same old solutions, we can expect the same dismal results. To really make a difference, we need to start thinking outside of the classroom.
The League of Women Voters of Nassau County is a non-partisan organization, which encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government.
We are greatly distressed by the actions of the presiding officer of the Nassau County Legislature on Monday, May 21, regarding the hearing and sub-sequent unexpected vote on Proposed Local Law No. 2012, “a local law authorizing the County Executive to take any and all actions he deems necessary to create forty-million-dollars saving for the County.”
I’d like to thank Karen Gellender, the writer of the column, “Get the Word Out: Parking in Parking Lots is Cool,” (The Roslyn News, May 17). It was a truly hysterical and yet sad commentary on the busy lives of many individuals.
If there really ever was a public awareness program to teach people that the laws apply to everyone, all the time, I would not hesitate to support it. Heck, I would even donate money towards it.
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