Here Today, Gone Tomorrow


In an instant we are here, and in another instant we are not. Some call it the journey of life. It is a common expression. However, life, as we know it, can be more than a journey. Life can be exciting. Life can be a trip to places never imagined. Life can be all these things and more, even as we gain years.

Some look into a mirror and see nothing but age, which seems to have appeared without notice. Others look into a mirror and see maturity as a sign of longevity and survival. Still others look into a mirror and see only the past — no regard for the present or the future.

How do we reconcile reality and fantasy? How do we determine that the time we have been allotted deserves our complete attention? How do we make our wishes come true? Finally, how do we mix all this together to bring fulfillment to our lives?

All these questions, as we gaze into the mirror of truth, are not entirely answerable. I would imagine that these thoughts ran through the minds of our service men and women who were thrust into harm’s way because of turmoil within the framework of human existence. Perhaps these brave men and women thought of what was and what could be in the same instance.

We pause as a nation to pay tribute to all of them in an tribute called Memorial Day. The thrill of the ride is over for these soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, National Guardsmen, and merchant marines. Now, we gather to recognize the drama that became history. There are no more tomorrows or dreams that give them purpose and hope. For them, there is no more of so much that we take for granted.

Our nation recognizes the frailties of life and the sacrifices made on our behalf. We pause to remember.  More than that, however, we express our gratitude in our sorrow because we understand that without their devotion, we would not be here to remember.

Some of us will cry. Some of us will bow our heads in pain. Some of us will visit cemeteries. Some of us will picnic and join family gatherings. There is no wrong way to commemorate the moment of remembrance. I would suggest that perhaps we should also find a way to smile, because we celebrate the values of life afforded us through human offerings.

Each display of allegiance should remind us about the goodness of today and the blessings of tomorrow. I am reminded of a cartoon I saw in which a child is kneeling in prayer and says, “....and just so You know, I had a very good day today, so I’d like more of the same tomorrow.”  This is how we can pay our respects to the many who no longer walk among us.

We can always find reasons to complain, but a simple gesture of gratitude can also wipe away the feelings of regret. On the solemn occasion of Memorial Day, we should express our thankfulness for being all together. Our words and gestures should remind us how fortunate we are to live in a country that cherishes the sacredness of life.

May our memories give us hope. More than that, may our memories be a reminder of how much we owe to those we stop to consider in this hour of dedication.

 

Rabbi Irwin Wiener, D.D