Earlier this year, the Town Board passed a proclamation declaring today, September 2nd, as “MORDECAI NOAH DAY”
In the 1800’s Noah came to Grand Island from New York City to declare the island a refuge for the Jewish people. His dream was to create a safe haven (called “Ararat”) where the Jewish diaspora struggling against fear and persecution abroad could come and live in peace.
Ararat was never built—all that was left was a corner stone and some rocks described to tourists as the “Lost City.” That corner stone used to sit at town hall, but now rests in the Buffalo Historical Society--I'd like it back! Yet Noah and his visit to Grand Island is and will remain a fascinating part of our history.
MORE ON NOAH
Like many great figures from American history, Noah was a complex figure. He has been accused of being a hot tempered land speculator, vicious political boss, huckster, megalomaniac, journalistic assassin, and intolerant hypocrite.
Sadly, the same thing can be said about some of our founding fathers. But the great strength of America is that we continue to evolve, and we define ourself by more than our darkest moments. Noah’s shortcomings alone should not define his legacy.
There was much good in Noah. His death in 1851 was memorized with the following passage, “hours before the time set for the funeral, Broadway was thronged . . . The very composition of the mourners, - the representation from so many different walks of life, - bore witness to the breadth of Noah's interests and the versatility of his gifts. Doctors, authors, musicians, comedians, editors, mechanics, professionals and non-professionals, all classes vying with each other in eager desire to offer tribute of respect to the mortal remains of Major Noah prior to their departure for their final resting place.”
WHY NOAH IS IMPORTANT
Ararat may have been a fiasco, and Noah may have been no saint. But it would be unwise to diminish this important part of American history and Grand Island history. Almost two hundred years later, much of Noah’s vision has actually come to fruition. Noah’s belief that a Jewish nation must be reestablished and that America must play an important role in that reestablishment foreshadowed the the creation of a modern Jewish state. And today, Noah and MORDECAI NOAH DAY should remind us that America should remain a safe haven for the unjustly persecuted. It is here where we cherish the belief that no man, woman, or child should be subject to rejection, scorn, or ridicule solely because of their religious beliefs, race, gender, or national origin.
That's why we passed the proclamation. That's why today is important. That's why America is important.
SO HAPPY MORDECAI NOAH DAY EVERYBODY!
MAY GOD BLESS AMERICA, MAY GOD BLESS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY, AND MAY GOD BLESS GRAND ISLAND!