Personal Privacy Protection Act key to children’s freedoms

Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute

By Brad Dacus

President, Pacific Justice Institute

Since many of us have been traveling and wrapping up summer vacations the last few weeks, I wanted to make sure that you don’t miss out on our new, big push to protect privacy for all Californians.

If you have already signed the official petition for the Personal Privacy Protection Act, thank you! We are excited about this launch and what it will mean for our children’s future.

If you haven’t yet had an opportunity to sign and return the petition, please take just a few minutes to print off the single signature petition from our website, (Multiple-signature petitions are available by contacting our coalition partners at

This initiative effort may be our last, best opportunity to take back our privacy from politicians and pass on this inalienable right to our children.

Many of you worked tirelessly on our previous referendum campaign to overturn AB 1266, the notorious co-ed school bathroom bill. So what’s different this time?

• The new initiative goes further and preserves even more rights than were possible by just overturning AB 1266.

• The new, significantly lower number of signatures required for this initiative makes it much more likely to get on the ballot. If we are able to gather the same number of valid signatures we submitted for the AB 1266 referendum, this initiative will easily qualify for the ballot!

• Unlike Prop. 8, this initiative includes a provision allowing us to defend it in court when our state politicians will not.

• In the meantime, we have not given up on the AB 1266 referendum—our attorneys continue to fight in court for those signatures to be counted.
Politicians are counting on you, the silent majority, to stay silent as they take away your privacy rights. You can send them a strong message that you are not giving away your rights, just by signing and returning the official petition on our website.

Our goals for gathering signatures and enacting the Personal Privacy Protection Act are very achieveable. But we need to get off to a strong start, and we need your help to make this happen!

I don’t ask this very often, but can I also ask you to forward this e-mail to 10 friends? Let’s awaken the silent majority and change our children’s future!

Running the race …

Rio Hondo gives a one-stop leg up to veterans

WHITTIER – Rio Hondo College’s Veterans Service Office launched a one-stop service center this summer that will allow veterans of the U.S. armed forces to conveniently obtain a host of critical services that range from counseling and tutoring to financial aid and loan assistance.

Veterans make up a small, but growing percentage of Rio Hondo’s student population. “Our veterans are returning to college after making significant sacrifices on our behalf,” said Superintendent/President Teresa Dreyfuss. “As such, they have special needs that go beyond those of the typical student – and we want to be sure we meet all of them to ensure their success at Rio Hondo College and beyond.”

Yvonne Gutierrez-Sandoval, Director of Financial Aid, Scholarships and Veterans Services, said the center was inspired by a desire to provide veterans with a place where they would feel most comfortable getting the services needed for their education.

“Our veterans share unique experiences – many of them traumatic – and it creates a level of comfort for them to be around other veterans who understand that,” Gutierrez-Sandoval said.

Services for veterans include: • Counseling services • A Veterans Administration education benefits certifying official • A financial aid adviser • Emergency student loans • Tutoring services • Computer lab • Information on community programs and services for veterans • Graduation cap and gown loan program.

“The transition to civilian life can be a difficult one,” added Arely Castaneda, Rio Hondo College’s newly appointed Veterans Service Center coordinator/counselor. “Providing a convenient location that meets all of a veteran’s needs helps eliminate unneeded stress. It also promotes their efforts to complete their courses and make the transition to a four-year college or new career.”

Board of Trustees President Madeline Shapiro said the new center is part of a larger campaign launched by the college to ensure all students receive services sculpted to meet their unique needs.

“Veterans are a growing and significant element of our student population,” Shapiro said. “It is a privilege to play a role in helping them transition to their next role in our society, and any service we can offer to make the process work more smoothly benefits us all.”

Open registration for Rio Hondo College’s fall 2015 semester begins Aug. 6. The fall semester runs from Aug. 22 to Dec. 12.

For information on the college or its programs, call
562-692-0921 or visit


Pioneering athletic excellence

The Whittier Union High School District celebrated the grand opening of the Dick Torres Memorial Stadium at Pioneer High School on May 28, 2015. Pictured are, from left, Pioneer High ASB President Robert Castañeda, Superintendent Sandra Thorstenson, Board of Trustees member Dr. Ralph Pacheco, Trustee Tim Schneider, President Jeff Baird, Trustee Leighton Anderson and Santa Fe High School ASB President Steven Nuon.

Whittier Union celebrates grand opening of

Dick Torres Memorial Stadium

By Juliette Funes

VMA Communications

WHITTIER – The Whittier Union High School District unveiled its spectacular 7,000-seat football stadium at Pioneer High School – among the largest high school stadiums in the San Gabriel Valley – to the community during a grand opening ceremony on May 28.

The $17.5 million facility, built with proceeds from the $75 million Measure W facilities bond, was dedicated as the Dick Torres Memorial Stadium in honor of Richard Torres, who died in 2010 after serving more than 30 years as an educational leader and inspiration to Whittier Union students.

“We’ve been waiting with excitement for the day when we could open this district stadium and cheer on our student-athletes from the sidelines,” Whittier Union Board of Trustees President Jeff Baird said. “That day has finally arrived and I want to thank the community for supporting the need for premium athletic facilities in our schools and enhancing opportunities for our student-athletes to achieve excellence in academics and athletic competition.”

During the celebration, visitors toured the stadium, to be shared with Santa Fe High, and marveled the many improvements it will offer to the school community, including enhanced seating capacity – with 2,000 seats for visitors and seating for 5,000 for the home team – and upgrades that include renovated soccer fields, outdoor tennis courts, junior varsity and varsity baseball and softball fields, and concession areas.

Other stadium features include an elevator and press box, as well as locker and weight rooms, an equipment storage room and coach’s office with restrooms in a separate structure below. The stadium includes a nine-lane, multi-colored synthetic track that highlights passing zones, a feature found more commonly in colleges and universities, including UCLA’s famed Drake Stadium.

Torres’ wife, Mary, expressed her pride that her husband’s legacy will reach generations of students.

“Along with his own children, being an educator here was an important part of his life and allowed him to dedicate himself to helping students succeed and achieve their dreams,” she said. “It is an enormous privilege for me, our families, our children and grandchildren to see this beautiful stadium carry the Torres name. It is more than any of us could have ever hoped for.”

Torres began his Whittier Union career in 1969 as a teacher at Santa Fe, where he led the Expanded Horizons program, serving and motivating first-generation, college-going youths. He later served as Pioneer’s Assistant Principal of Business and Activities, a post he held until his retirement in 1991.

Torres continued to substitute as a teacher and administrator at every District school until his death.

Joe Duardo, a parent and community leader, lauded Torres for his role in growing the Horizons program at Santa Fe and for stressing the importance of parent involvement in increasing student success.

“Throughout his career, Dick demonstrated an uncommon dedication, enthusiasm and passion to advocate on behalf of all of the district’s students,” Duardo said. “Just as this stadium has been transformed by the renovation project, the district’s instructional program and the lives of thousands of students have been transformed, thanks to Dick Torres and the vision that he so fervently and persistently articulated.”

The Pioneer Class of 2015 will hold its graduation ceremony in the new stadium on Wednesday, June 3.

“We are elated to open this first-class athletic facility to our students who continue to distinguish themselves in the classroom and on the field,” Superintendent Sandra Thorstenson said. “To have the stadium bear the name of a man who inspired so many and left a lasting impact on everyone will serve as a reminder to this community that demographics do not determine destiny at Whittier Union.”

Professor’s final exam gets re-’buff’ed

Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute

By Brad Dacus

President, Pacific Justice Institute

What would you do if your college-age daughter told you that her professor was making his students literally get naked for their final exam?

We learned this week that this scenario actually confronted a mom whose daughter attends UC-San Diego. The daughter is in a visual arts class. The professor even confirmed to local news outlets that yes, his final exam included a requirement that this and other students get naked and perform an “erotic gesture” in a candlelit room. Perhaps even more disturbingly, the professor noted that he would be taking off his clothes as well!

Why am I telling you this story? Friends … the future of our children is at stake. It’s easy sometimes to get bogged down in the rhetoric of the “culture wars” and lose sight of what we’re fighting for.

Make no mistake—if we surrender on issues like marriage, parental rights in education, and student privacy, it will get worse. Those who today are pushing radical sexualized education will not be satisfied until our children are forced to participate.

This is why PJI continues to fight for families and our young people. It’s why we continue to battle in court over the “co-ed bathroom bill,” AB 1266. It’s why we are a very active participant in the Privacy for All coalition. It’s why we developed a privacy opt-out form for K-12 schools.

Please continue to stand with us against those who (like this professor) do not have our children’s best interests at heart. I wish this young college student (who chose to remain anonymous) had reached out to Pacific Justice Institute so we could have confronted this outrage on her behalf. But I hope you will help spread the word about PJI to your family and friends so that other families who may encounter similar situations will get the help they need. As the days grow darker, may our light grow stronger!


Weigh in on Nelles re-use plan on Monday, May 4

WHITTIER – The city of Whittier will begin the first of four Planning Commission meetings considering the re-use of the Fred C. Nelles Youth Correctional Facility at 7 p.m. on Monday, May 4, 2015 at city hall, 13230 Penn St.

Participants may speak for three minutes during the public comments portion of the meeting.

Boys & Girls Club benefit sure to motivate

Get motivated and help the Boys & Girls Club of Whittier by attending the first “Be Great Motivate” benefit from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 27, 2015 at the Rose Hills SkyRose Chapel, 3888 Workman Mill Road in Whittier.

Renowned motivational speaker John Coutis promises to uplift spirits and get a positive mood flowing for all those attending.

Tickets are $15 and can be obtained at or by calling 562-698-8630, Ext. 114.

Hors d’oeuvres will be served.

The event, which organizers hope to make an annual event, is sponsored by the Boys & Girls Club of Whittier, Rose Hills Memorial Park & Mortuary and Graphicom Printing. All proceeds will benefit the Boys & Girls Club.

Cal High senior named Gates Millennium Scholar

California High School senior Ivan Delatorre is one of a select 1,000 students from across the nation to be named a Gates Millennium Scholar. Delatorre will use the scholarship to pursue a degree in accounting at UCLA.

Scholarship will cover all college costs

By Juliette Funes

VMA Communications

WHITTIER – On a mid-April Saturday afternoon, California High School senior Ivan Delatorre carefully opened a hefty packet of documents he’d received in the mail.

With his mother sitting by his side, the 18-year-old and his mother began to cry when they realized he was one of a select 1,000 students from across the nation chosen to receive the Gates Millennium Scholarship, which will cover his unmet financial need to attend the University of California, Los Angeles through graduation.

Winners of the scholarship were officially announced May 1, 2015.

“I couldn’t believe I’d been selected for this award,” Delatorre said. “This is a huge honor and I feel so blessed. There’s no way I could have made it this far if not for the support of Cal High. I’m so proud to be a Condor.”

Delatorre, who holds a 4.3 GPA and is ranked seventh in a class of 720, was chosen from among 52,000 applicants for the Millennium Scholar Program, established in 1999 through a $1.6 billion grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The program helps high-performing students attain their dream of attending four-year universities and colleges through graduate school.

Delatorre plans to major in accounting so he can ultimately help local families and small businesses learn how to be as resourceful as possible and thrive, even when faced with limited budgets.

“My family struggled a lot throughout my life to make ends meet,” Delatorre said. “I want to give back and be a positive influence in the community that raised me.”

On campus, Delatorre has been heavily involved with numerous clubs and organizations, serving in roles that include Key Club president, vice president of the Scholars Academy and Interact, treasurer of the National Honor Society, a member of Senior Class Council, Expanded Horizons, American Red Cross Club, Blue and Gold Society and a LINK crew leader.

He is also committed to off-campus volunteering, assisting with sports physicals every other Saturday, volunteering at local food banks and other community-sponsored events.

“Ivan has embraced every opportunity during his four years at Cal High with enthusiasm and dedication,” Principal Bill Schloss said. “We are ecstatic for Ivan and admire how hard he has worked to become a Millennium Scholar. We wish him the very best as he enters this next chapter in his life.”

Delatorre attributes his success to the mentoring and support he has received at Cal High.

“It is because of Cal High that I’ve gotten this far. The teachers are great. All of the counselors are willing to help you. Every single staff member wants you to succeed,” Delatorre said. “Cal High offers so many programs to get you back on track to graduate. Everyone is friendly and approachable. They want you to go far and realize how difficult it can be.”

Delatorre plans to continue to dedicate his free time to helping those in need.

“Ivan has successfully managed balancing a rigorous course schedule with his commendable volunteer efforts, and we couldn’t be more proud of him for this incredible achievement,” Whittier Union High School District Superintendent Sandra Thorstenson said. “The Cal High community has provided Ivan with the academic, social and personal opportunities to thrive. We can’t wait to hear of the innovative, positive projects he will start in college.”

New initiative will expand privacy protections

Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute

SACRAMENTO — A new voter initiative would significantly expand privacy protections in sensitive facilities such as public restrooms and locker rooms.

The measure is similar to but more protective than the referendum effort on AB 1266, the controversial legislation that allows students to use bathrooms and locker rooms based only on their self-perceived gender identity.

The new initiative, known as the Personal Privacy Protection Act, would reaffirm restroom use based on biological sex in all state and local government buildings, including schools. The PPPA would also allow businesses to protect the privacy of patrons and employees in restrooms and locker rooms.

The PPPA further includes a provision allowing proponents to defend the measure in court if state authorities refuse to do so.

The initiative was submitted to the office of Attorney Genral Kamala Harris on behalf of Privacy for All by attorney Kevin Snider of Pacific Justice Institute.

Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, said, “The Personal Privacy Protection Act will allow Californians to reclaim essential privacy rights that have been trampled by our politicians. We can and we must be both compassionate toward those suffering from gender identity dysphoria, and exercise common sense in not casting aside crucial constitutional rights like privacy. This initiative strikes the appropriate balance.”

Once a title and summary are issued by the Attorney General, proponents will have 180 days to gather 365,880 valid signatures. The Privacy for All Students coalition gathered about 620,000 signatures in a shorter timeframe for the AB 1266 referendum, of which more than 487,000 were validated. Low voter turnout in California’s 2014 gubernatorial election has resulted in fewer signatures being required to place initiatives on the 2016 ballot.

Pacific Justice Institute will issue further releases when the initiative is ready for signature-gathering.


Are you hero for seniors, or do you know one?

Dr. Mikol Davis & Carolyn Rosenblatt

By Dr. Mikol Davis & Carolyn Rosenblatt, RN, Attorney

Here at, we are sponsoring a contest through May to feature the best of the best folks in financial services who stopped or prevented elder abuse.

We want to highlight professionals who stepped up and took action.

We’re calling all financial planners, wealth managers, RIAs, CFPs, trust officers, lawyers and others who have protected elderly clients after they became aware of abuse or predatory practices.

Without a fiduciary standard, financial professionals selling inappropriate products create one kind of elder abuse. There are many ways people take financial advantage of aging people. And that doesn’t even address predators outside financial services who seek out elderly victims. They’re everywhere.

If you have put any financial abuse to a stop, please get credit! Let us know.

At we are allies of the elderly, having spent years of our lives serving them.

Carolyn Rosenblatt blogs at (Aging Parents) and to keep readers aware of both the scammers and now the heroes. We want to tell your stories. We hope to educate our community by highlighting the actions of courageous people who showed leadership and care for elders by going above and beyond to protect them.

Did you stop thieves and greedy players inside or outside the financial services field itself? We have a few great heroes already! We know you’re out there.

Please submit your own name and story or that of someone you respect for their abuse prevention efforts to

For those of you who have sent your stories already, you’re in the running and we thank you. If you need to remain anonymous for political or personal reasons, we will honor that and not use your real name, location or workplace. We’ll share your exemplary actions. And if what you did was leave a large organization so you wouldn’t be part of abusive practices there, we think that’s heroic too. Please tell us. We’ll put your name in the story only if you give us permission.

And we are going to feature you if you are willing. Send your photo and address too, if you like!

We’ll feature you and let our social media contacts know that you are a standout among the rest. We applaud you. We will choose the winners and each will receive a signed copy of Carolyn’s new book, The Family Guide to Aging Parents: Answers to Your Legal, Financial and Healthcare Questions.

Thanks for joining us.

Dr. Mikol Davis & Carolyn Rosenblatt

An Easter Sunday message from the Rev. Tom Boles: Tomorrow!


Virginia and Tom Boles

Editor’s note: The following is an exact transcript of the Easter message The Rev. Tom Boles will deliver on Easter Sunday. The longtime pastor is co-founder of the Midnight Mission serving the homeless on Skid Row and is a proverbial icon in Whittier religious circles. He is a frequent contributor to this website. He and his wife, Virginia, live in La Habra.

Our search for tomorrow

MATTHEW 28:1-10; COLOSSIANS 3:1-4; JOHN 20:1 -10

By The Rev. Tom Boles

You know by now how the drama of Easter unfolds. It begins two day earlier, on Good Friday.

Jesus of Nazareth was crucified by the Roman authorities at the instigation of the religious authorities.

He was nailed to a cross and a sword pierced his side. The soldiers affixed a sign above his head which read, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.”

Death came rather swiftly and mercifully, after only about six hours. Some crucified men lingered for days, which has led some writers to propose that Christ died of a broken heart. After a Roman centurion confirmed His death, Pontius Pilate, the Roman prefect for that territory, granted permission to a man named Joseph of Arimathea to claim His body.

Joseph of Arimathea was wealthy and a pious man, a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin, who had become a follower of Jesus. Joseph was aided by a wealthy Pharisee by the name of Nicodemus. It was Nicodemus, you will remember, who had to come to Christ under the darkness of night to ask Him about His teachings. It was to Nicodemus that Christ said that in order for him to enter the kingdom of God, Nicodemus would have to be born all over again.

Evidently the message took, for when Jesus’ closest disciples had fled in fear, there was Nicodemus aiding Joseph of Arimathea in claiming Jesus’ body.

Carefully and with much effort they removed the nails from the Master’s hands and feet and lowered him to the ground. Along with a group of women who had remained close by through it all, Joseph and Nicodemus hastily prepared Christ’s body for burial.

Opening prayer:

Praise to you, ‘O God, for you have raised up your Son, our Savior, from the dead and gave Him glory, giving us faith and hope in You. Praise be to You, ‘O Christ, You are the resurrection and the life. And, by your glorious resurrection, you brought life and immortality to light. Praise to you, ‘O holy spirit, you shed abroad the love of Christ, in our hearts, and made us rejoice in the hope of glory. All praise, thanks, dominion, and power be unto you, blessed Trinity, now and forever more. Amen.”

Somebody ought to write a book titled, “Preachers are funny creatures.” It makes no difference if they are pastors, priests or rabbis, people who have the wonderful privilege as I do of standing in front of good Christians, each week are somewhat weird. Like the famous Rev. Eugene Magee. Magee is an enthusiastic pastor who does not wear a robe.

His sanctuary is plainer than most, adorned only by a cross and an American flag. Magee likes to wave his arms to emphasize important points in his sermons. Unfortunately, he is so animated that he has trouble keeping his shirttails in his trousers. To solve this he had developed the habit of periodically stuffing his shirttails back into his trousers as inconspicuously as possible. Even while he is preaching.

One Easter Sunday, while admonishing the faithful with great excitement, he fished around behind his back in the usual way, and found more material than usual to push out of sight. He persisted doggedly, however, on and on he preached and on and on he stuffed.

At the close of his sermon he discovered that he had about half of the American flag stuffed into his pants. He felt foolish, of course. But what would you expect? It was Easter Sunday! What pastor can help but get excited on Easter Sunday? We get excited because we see faces on Easter that we might not see on most Sundays of the year.

Just before the service today I heard one young fellow ask his dad: “Dad, where are the Christmas trees that were here the last time we were here? That’s a joke, of course, I’m really very happy to see each of you. Most everyone of you is a regular! And most of you have been here since last Easter. But it’s easy to get excited about the attendance on Easter.

What would Easter be without the great music, and I am sorry that we do not have our own choir for this first service. I’m reminded to a Family Circus cartoon. The family is leaving church, which has been packed with worshippers. The children are saying, “What a crowd, Daddy! Has our church been advertising?”

One of them says, “I like it when the choir sings about that guy named Ollie Looya.”

Well, I’m kind of fond of old Ollie Looya myself. What would Easter be without music?

Of course the main reason pastors get excited on Easter is because we get to tell once again the story of the first Easter.

On the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the sepulcher, which had held Jesus’ body. It was early. John says it was still dark. I wonder if he was speaking literally or metaphorically. There was certainly darkness over all the Earth before Christ’s resurrection. And without His resurrection our lives would still be lived in darkness. If you and I are simply Earth-bound creatures with no promise of tomorrow, if aging, pain and death are all we have to look forward to, then this is a dark world indeed.

Mary Magdalene came to the grave while it was still dark. Certainly there was darkness in her soul. The one she loved most in all the world had been slain on the cross of Calvary. Her face, ashen with grief, was streaked with tears; her eyes were clouded with pain as she made her way into the garden. Imagine her confusion when she found the stone rolled away.

Blindly Mary began running. She found Simon Peter along with another of her disciples and she said, “They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulcher, and we know not where they have laid Him.”

The disciples also ran, this time in the direction of the tomb. And they found the linen garments that Jesus was buried in, and the napkin that had been tied around his head lying in separate areas of the sepulcher. But there was no body, for He had risen as He said.

Then, according to scripture, the risen Christ began making appearances. Not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen by God. The reports are mysterious and confusing. The risen Christ passed through closed doors. Yet, on other occasions, he ate and drank with his disciples. What kind of body was this that the risen Lord was wearing? And how accurate are these reports?

No one would fabricate a story with as many troubling discrepancies. These are the jumbled eyewitness accounts of men and women who are experiencing something that never happened before.

Who could help but get excited reporting such news? Then to bring it to bear on our lives, let us not forget how the writer of Colossians sums up the meaning of the resurrection like this: “Since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above. Where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.

When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

Since you have been raised with Christ, Easter isn’t just about a historical event that took place more than 2,000 years ago. Easter is a way of living today.

Eric Butterworth tells about a young soldier who lost his legs in battle. Something died within this young man when he found he would never walk again. He lay in his hospital bed, staring blankly at the ceiling. He refused to talk to anyone who tried to help him. He refused to cooperate with doctors or nurses who wanted to help him to adjust.

One day another inmate of the hospital strolled in and sat down on a chair near the bed. He drew a harmonica from his pocket and began to play softly. The patient looked at him for a second, then back to the ceiling. That was all for that day.

The next day the player came again. For several days he continued to come and to play quietly. One day he said: “Does my playing annoy you?”

The patient said, “No, I guess I like it.” They talked a little more each day.

One day the harmonica player was in a jovial mood. He played a sprightly tune and began to do a tap dance. The soldier looked on but was apparently unimpressed. “Hey, why don’t you smile once and let the world know you’re alive.”

The dancer said it with a friendly smile. But the legless soldier said, “I might as well be dead as in the fix I’m in.” “OK” answered his happy friend, “So you’re dead. But you’re not as dead as a fellow who was crucified 2,000 years ago, and he came out of it alright.”

“Oh, it’s easy for you to preach,” replied the patient. “But if you were in my fix, you’d sing a different tune.”

With this the dancer stood up and said, “I know a 2,000-year-old resurrection is pretty far in the dim past, so maybe an up-to-date example will help you to believe it can be done.”

With that he pulled up his trouser legs and the young man in the bed looked and saw two artificial limbs. The tap-dancing fellow with the harmonica was not simply a Pollyanna. He once lay where that young soldier now lay. He himself had known the power of a resurrection. He had learned to live life abundantly, even without his legs, needless to say, the young soldier’s own resurrection began that moment.”

Easter isn’t just about dying. It’s about the power of belief in a world of lost hope. It is about knowing that no situation is beyond God’s redeeming power. Easter is confidence that God will never forget us nor forsake us.

“Since you have been raised with Christ!”

Easter isn’t just about an event that occurred 2,000 years ago. Easter is a way of living today.

“Since you have been raised with Christ,” writes St. Paul, “Set your hearts on things above.”

Easter is a day for reflecting on the meaning of life.

There was a Sunday last September when many churches were full like this. Do you remember? It was the Sunday after the terrorist attack (in Boston). We were all stunned, bewildered, grief-stricken. We needed help making sense of it all. And so we turned to the one place where help is to be found at such times. We turned to God.

J. Wallace Hamilton, the great preacher of yesteryear, once told the story of a group of American soldiers stationed in London during the first World War. They had received orders that the next day they would be going to the front lines.

The church where many of the men attended while away from home hastily gave them a dinner.

It was a joyous time and the conversation was light and upbeat. Before the pastor gave the benediction, one of the soldiers was selected to share words of appreciation. He was a man of charm with the gift of speech. As he brought his speech to a close he said, “Tomorrow we are leaving for France, and the trenches, and to die.”

He did not mean to say that. Looking around with embarrassment, struggling for some better words to say, he said, “Can anybody tell us how to die?”

And, nobody laughed or even smiled.

There was an awkward pause as through he had said the wrong thing, and then a period of strange silence in which nobody said anything.

Then someone walked quietly to the piano where they had been playing and singing fun songs and began to play and sing the old gospel hymns. In the quiet that followed, every man’s soul was forced to deal in a serious way with the question of life and death.

Without anybody planning it, a party became a prayer meeting in which they had to turn to God.

Easter gives us the opportunity, without being morbid, to reflect on the ultimate meaning of things. Are we mere creatures of the dust who are here only for a moment, or were we created for eternity?

On the southwest coast of Scotland lies the little town of Whithorn. In its ancient cemetery can be found a tombstone with an intriguing epitaph: “You think I’m forgot? I’m not!”

We are not forgotten by those who love us, or by God. It’s not enough, though, to live on as a vaporous memory. We want to know that we will continue to exist as real people when we have shed this body of clay. We want the joy of being reunited with those whom we love beyond the pale of death. We yearn to know that our lives really matter to God.

That’s why Easter is so important to us. Do our petty concerns really matter? Do our lives have any significance? Dare we live and love with vigor and vitality with the knowledge that our lives really count?

Life hardly seems to matter at all, if everything stops when we’re laid in the grave. This is why we gather here this day. This is why Easter is the most important day on the Christian calendar.

It is not simply a celebration of an event long ago. Easter is about the two most important periods in our life, today and tomorrow. Can we count on having a tomorrow? Always? Will we ever run out of tomorrows?

In late March 1993, a sudden, unexpected snowstorm blanketed the East Coast of the United States. In Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Eastern Tennessee and Western North Carolina, it was the snow of the century.

Many hunters and hikers were trapped in the park, cut off from their loved ones. Four medical doctors from Knoxville had chosen that weekend for a hunting excursion in the Smokies. Since they had expected to be gone only one night and did not expect any adverse circumstances, they did not bother to give their families or their staffs the exact location of their hunt.

They felt that their SUV could take them deep into the mountains and get them back out with no difficulty whatsoever. Imagine their surprise when the snow banked up around their vehicle and became so deep that their SUV refused to budge.

What were they to do? This was before cell phones became commonplace. No one in the outside world knew where they were. They hadn’t brought enough food for more than two days. They were frightened and bewildered as what to do next.

Evening fell on the second day. Still, they had no contact with civilization. Their SUV was as immoveable as on the day beore. They divided a stale doughnut that someone found in the back of the vehicle. They were cold, hungry and greatly discouraged. Would no one find them before they had either frozen or starved?

Then, suddenly, they heard a sound overhead. The unmistakable whrrrr of a helicopter. They jumped out of their vehicle and screamed and waved their arms to allow the pilot of the helicopter to locate them. And he did.

For a moment the helicopter hovered above them. They could see it was already filled with other hunters and hikers. Then they saw a basket being lowered from the helicopter. In that basket was a note. On that note was one word: “Tomorrow.”

Immediately those four sophisticated medical doctors made a chorus line. And they kicked their legs as high as the snow would allow. And they began to sing at the top of their lungs, “TOMORROW, TOMORROW, I LOVE YOU, TOMORROW, YOU’RE ONLY A DAY AWAY.”

Their fear was gone. Help was on its way. They would live to see another day.

“Tomorrow.” That would be a good song to add to our Easter repertoire. “Tomorrow.” For that is the Easter message. Because of what Christ has done, we don’t have to worry about today or tomorrow. Christ has conquered sin and death.

We can live resurrection lives beginning this moment. God loves us. Our lives DO matter. We will always have tomorrow.

Closing prayer:

“Eternal savior, we have seen in Your victory our hope realized, our faith confirmed, our strength renewed as we go from here, may the victory of the risen Christ be our victory.