So we have survived the mythical Mayan apocalypse and stepped back from the fiscal cliff or did we? In any case, we begin a brand new year with an odd sounding name. In fact, this odd number is only divisible by 3, 33, 61, 183 and 671.
Some would reduce the year’s significance to the number 13, which signifies both good and bad fortunes to some, but that’s another story.
Although it is 2013 for those who observe the Gregorian calendar, it is something else for those who observe the Hebrew (5773-5774), Buddhist (2557), Islamic (1434-1435) and 20 other calendars.
Nonetheless, what does this year hold in store for us? What gives any year its identity?
One identity is history through a rear view mirror, that is, what will be remembered, commemorated or celebrated. We usually focus upon anniversaries of 50, 100, 150, 200 or 500 years.
So what will we remember in 2013?
Starting with 500th year anniversaries, in 1513 Ponce de Leon sailed into Florida (April 2) and Vasco Nunez de Balboa stepped into the Pacific Ocean (September 25). Not many celebrants here.
The bi-centennial of 1813 offers the patent on rubber (April 29) and the first use of the term “Uncle Sam” (September 7). Not much to celebrate here either.
Moving forward to the sesquicentennial of 1863 we find such Civil War events as Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation (declared January 1, of law August 16) and Gettysburg Address (November 19) and the battles of Fredericksburg (May 3), Chancellorsville (May 2-4) and Gettysburg (July 1-3). Re-enactors will have a field day.
Onward to the centennial of 1913 we find establishment of federal taxation (February 25) and Federal Reserve System (December 23) which may not get too many celebrants. But therewas also the dedication of the first paved coast to coast Lincoln Highway (October 31). Now we are reaching.
But 50th anniversaries of 1963 are plentiful and burned into the memories of some of us. We find the US Supreme Court ruled against Bible reading and prayer in public schools (June 17), President Kennedy declared “Ich bin ein Berliner” in Berlin (June 26), Martin Luther King Jr. delivered “I have a dream speech” at Lincoln Memorial (August 28), first US TV appearance of the Beatles (September 7) and President Kennedy assassinated in Dallas (November 22) and buried in Arlington (November 25). Pause and consider.
There are two other anniversaries of note. One is the 65th birthday of the State of Israel (April 15/16). Israel should be old enough to retire from the labors of self defense but will her neighbors accept her in the neighborhood?
The other is the 40th anniversary of the US Supreme Court legalization of abortion on demand (January 22).
No doubt there will be commemorations of these last two events by many having opposing views.
What really lies ahead in 2013?
Watch for the Presidential Inauguration (Jan 21), Super Bowl (Feb 3), Mothers Day (May 12), Fathers Day (June 16) and Grandparents Day (Sept 8). Mark them on your calendar now so you won’t forget.
Scientists warn that an asteroid will pass within 21,000 miles of earth (Feb 15), but with no ill effects. They say we can observe it with a small telescope.
Others warn of solar flares since 2013 is a peak year in their typical 11-year cycle. Possible effects range from nothing to localized power outages to major disruptions of our electrical grid. Most scientists predict little impact.
Trend lines suggest that civil unrest will continue in the Middle East, Africa and other places with odd sounding names.
But whether we view history as an evolutionary progression, a repeating cycle, or a created beginning and prophetic ending, we mark time by our own personal experiences.
They speak to us of blessings and mercy, of warnings and judgment.
In this world of conflict, crisis and chaos, we can still find meaning and purpose in our faith, family, friends and community.
For the past is history, the future mystery, the present a gift, ala British author, A. A Milne. So let’s live, love, work and worship so 2013 is memorable in its own right. Because we can.
Bob Kirchner is a local historian, seminary student and city of Anoka’s part-time community development director.