Jewish World Review Sept. 13, 2002 / 8 Tishrei, 5763
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | On the morning after September 11, when the nation awoke unsure of the difference between reality and hell, my morning prayers took on a new fervency: "Give wisdom to our president and his Cabinet. Protect the members of our armed services. If any are unsure of their destiny, let them make their peace with You today."
I have found myself thinking of them often since 9/11: the Air Force, the Army, the Navy and the Marines. When I see a news clip of ground troops, sailors on a ship, or read of a bombing run, I promise anew to keep them close to my heart.
I think of them when I lean over the sink to splash water on my face and instantly tap into the luxury of hot water. I grab a fresh towel, plumped by the magic of fabric softener, and ask that G-d grant our men and women in uniform the strength to face hardship and deprivation as they probe caves and scramble across mountainous terrain, fighting a mysterious shadow war.
I pass by the family room and adjust the setting on the thermostat. Comfort at my fingertips. My hand is still on the dial when I wonder what the temperature is in the desert today. How do you calculate a misery index for blistering heat, sand that stings the eyes, muscle cramps from dehydration and the ache of lugging a weighty pack?
When I open the refrigerator and survey a pitcher of orange juice, fresh vegetables and a jug of 2-percent milk, I think again of members of the military surviving on dehydrated food and mess hall fare. Remnants of their families left stateside - mothers with small children, and fathers, too - struggling to make ends meet on meager military pay.
Occasionally, I wonder if we civilians, we boomers and consumers conditioned for immediate gratification, will grow bored with the war on terror. Will we become so absorbed in our own lives that we forget about the front line fighting for peace and security? Afflicted with short memories and waning attention spans, will we gradually forget the horror of that tragic September day? Will we let the thousands murdered by the hands of evil slip from our radar?
The answer is no. An earth-shattering, ear-splitting no.
We will not forget. Seared in our memories are the images of black smoke billowing from the towers, flying debris and the hollow thud of office workers hitting the pavement because jumping seemed more humane than burning alive.
Far in the distance, the sad wail of bagpipes from a hundred memorial services will forever play a mournful tune. We will not forget, just as we will not forget the red, white and blue hoisted by firemen in the midst of the twin towers' smoldering ash.
When night falls, and I slip into bed in my comfortable home with all the modern amenities, on a quiet street where people are free to choose their vocations, houses of worship and to freely express their thoughts, I lie awake and marvel at freedom and liberty - the cornerstones of democracy that the terrorists seek to destroy.
A parade marches by, veterans from the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the bloody Civil War, two World Wars, Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf. There pass generations, both soldiers and civilians, men and women, white, black and brown, who have served and sacrificed to establish this country, to sustain it and to preserve it.
Have mercy on our nation, L-rd. May we never to forget the labor
of so many. And bless our armed forces. Bless the brave and courageous and
the scared to death who fight to defend the liberty and freedom of these
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08/30/02: The Last One Left
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