Rabbi Irwin Wiener, D.D.
Winter is flying by, and spring is right around the corner. And as spring approaches, we should be reminded that it is a time of renewal, a time set aside by the calendar to remind us of those things that are important so that we can discard those things that are troubling and cause us pain.
As Americans, we commemorate the birthdays of our presidents because they represent the best in us. We understand, only too well, the anguish of growth and development that their lives depicted as they forged a nation from dissidents and malcontents and reformers – all thirsting for the freedom from degradation and despair. The country they fled – primarily England – held nothing but a repressive existence and an opportunity to go nowhere in the quest for completion and contentment.
The Founding Fathers were, and remain, important in our lives because they were able to work tirelessly for the benefit of all, even to the point of losing their wealth and status as successful entrepreneurs.
Albert Einstein once wrote, “Strange is our situation here upon earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to divine a purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we know: That we are here for the sake of others … above all, for those whose smile and wellbeing our own happiness depends, and also for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy.”
I could not help think as I read these words how much of an impact we have on the lives of those we come in contact with each and every day. We probably will never know, as our framers never really understood, to what extent we truly comfort those in need or help those looking for togetherness and purpose. Each and every time we gather, as a nation, to celebrate or to mourn, we are minded of our connection. It is truly uplifting.
The men and women who chose to assume roles of leadership in the development of our nation enabled us to witness firsthand the value of friendship and warmth. Sure, there are times we feel estranged or perhaps disconnected, but then all we have to do is read a document called the Constitution, or the Bill of Rights, or the Emancipation Proclamation to awaken in us a true feeling of patriotism.
These visionaries knew that they could not be all things to all people, but they also understood that we should never stop trying. Personalities notwithstanding, we are all linked in a chain of tradition that has been inherited from generations past. They leaned on Scripture for encouragement and faith in the purpose for which they fought, and we should not only carry that torch of fervor but also enhance its message by ensuring that their devotion was not in vain. Each generation of Americans must ensure that the flame is never extinguished.
By honoring the past, we honor the present and guarantee the future. This is the hallmark of a great people. All bring to the table different talents that blend together to form a great nation.
When we join together during the month of February to honor our leaders, know that we are also congratulating each other because we continue to elevate because of their sacrifices.
Let us all wish a Happy Birthday to our presidents for their sincerity of purpose and devotion to the continuity of human deliverance. It is through their efforts that we enjoy the fondness and gratitude of so many.