9/11 Reflection as Rosh Hashanah Day of Remembrance

On this 17th year since the 9/11 terror attacks, it is the first year that this day of mourning and remembrance shares its time with Rosh Hashanah — the Jewish New Year. It is a fitting holiday to have 9/11 fall on, as this marks the beginning of the days of repentance, at the beginning of the Hebrew calendar, that lead up to Yom Kippur — the day of atonement.

Photo courtesy of Don Halasy, Wikimedia

9/11 as a Time of Introspection

As always, 9/11 has been a time of reflection and introspection — which is exactly what one practices on the Jewish high holy days. With the world in political strife this is, perhaps, the perfect opportunity for all to stop and take stock in themselves and all on this planet. With the unspeakable horror 9/11 brought — with that day also came a momentary birth of solidarity in the U.S. and worldwide as people of different faiths and political agendas worked together to rescue, comfort, support and rebuild.

The tragedy of 9/11 should never be forgotten — not just for the so many lives lost — but also for remembering all who threw their personal beliefs aside to run to help fellow human beings — strangers. On this high holy day of 9/11 should not everyone take stock to stop and realize that we must all take responsibility for our actions — and should one not want their actions to be to come together as a society instead of driving it apart.

The terrorists who caused this tragic day in history wished only to drive a wedge into humanity — to impose their hatred upon others and cause needless suffering. Instead, the act of war caused a humane unity showing those with hate in their hearts that their attack brought people together to fight back and rebuild out of kindness and compassion. Unfortunately, in 2018 that harmony has been long forgotten as political groups pit human against human in the U.S. and around the globe.

A 9/11 Sunny Day Turned Frigid in Fear

Sept 11, 2001, George W. Bush had been president for not yet a full year. The U.S. elected him amid cries that he did not win by the popular vote. Yet, political views aside, the country settled into its everyday routine.

9/11 was an impeccably perfect sunny day with a clear blue sky shining upon the East Coast of the United States. Bush had chosen that morning to visit Emma E. Booker Elementary School to visit with a second-grade class. In my usual routine, I was on my way to work listening to my radio as I watched planes fly over on their normal, every-day, decent to Kennedy Airport.

In a flash, the status quo was shattered as news reported that a plane hit the North World Trade Tower. Reports of a second plane smashing into the South Tower confirmed that we were under attack. Just as Bush received the news in a whisper as he was reading to them the story, “The Pet Goat,” I was rushing into my office carrying my portable radio in disbelief.

Our office sat around my little radio listening to the accounts — we were being attacked — we are at war! Suicide terrorists chose 9/11 to carry out their plan to hijack planes and turn them into giant bombs with the sole purpose to kill. More reports came in that another plane hit the Pentagon. A fourth plane was saved from its intended target by passengers and crew who gave up their lives to cause the plane to crash in a Pennsylvania field as they battled their hijackers.

It was at that elementary school library that Bush addressed the country about the situation. Meanwhile, living just a short 25 miles from Ground Zero, I announced to our small office, “We are at war! I have to go get my daughter!” As Bush rushed from Emma E. Booker, in shock I drove home straight to my then six-year-old daughter’s school in tears as who knew what would be next to come.

9/11 in a New Age of Disharmony

Barack Obama took the office as president after Bush. as the first African-American president, Obama had to fight prejudice as he worked to better his country. Regardless of political beliefs, the U.S. was attempting to grow in a new-age of social media making it easy to create new discord.

My daughter joined the Navy, during Obama’s tenure as president, with promises that they needed her as an officer with her engineering skills and degree. As she continued her education many changes occurred in the world. Politics continued to divide the country, as well as families and friends and a new president took over the reins from Obama.

Long forgotten was the solidarity among humans discovered after 9/11. The many at odds turned back in time to looking at skin color in race wars instead of the fact that all are of the same human race who bleed the same color.

From Sept 11, 2017, to Sept 11, 2018, many changes occurred in my world as well as the world in general. During this time my always-little, just graduated from university, girl was taking seriously her commitment to serve her country as a Naval officer.

As she prepared to enter Officer Candidate School (OCS), my girl knew how different the world had changed in just the few short years since she had made her life decision. Still, she went forward with the best intentions to live up to her commitment. My baby headed off to OCS to use her engineering education in helping the U.S. fight for world peace.

9/11 View from Military Mom Turned Back to Civilian Mom

Not the typical military mom, I wondered if not for 9/11 would my baby still be choosing to do what she was doing. This mom was terrified — I never left my phone — for fear that I would miss a call — or even the bigger fear that I would get a call no parent would want to get. She spent 9/11 being worked hard to ready for any harsh situation of battle, as I kept up hopes of a safe future.

Soon it became clear though, with this new president, the original promises told to her — that she would be protecting the country with her engineering skills — may not come to fruition. Instead, she was told to ready for combat and war. After much introspection, my talented girl realized her engineering was not going to be used as promised by the Navy and decided she could better serve her country as a civilian.

This was not an easy decision to make — much heartache went into it — but if the country was going to renege on what they promised her then she needed to do what was right in her heart. With relief, this military mom let out a huge sigh that her child was out of any possibility of heading to fight in harms-way. Soon this intelligent young woman found herself in the private sector with a job aiding the military — an engineering position. Although, back to civilian life, she is still working for the greater good of the country and the world.

Rosh Hashanah on 9/11 as a new Call for Solidarity

The Rosh Hashanah holiday is not just for the Jewish people as it directs the prayers to all the people on Earth, “All inhabitants of the world pass before G‑d like a flock of sheep,” continuing that the heavenly court decrees, “who shall live, and who shall die … who shall be impoverished and who shall be enriched; who shall fall and who shall rise.”

Putting any G-d like entity aside, this is not a world where humans should be deciding the fate of other humans based on political or religious beliefs, or the color of skin. As the beginning of the days of repentance, Rosh Hashanah, as with 9/11, is a time of reflection to recount any wrongs done in the past that we can change to make for a better future.

This year, with the gift of a high holy day falling on 9/11, it is the perfect occasion to ruminate on what each of us as individuals can do to come together for the greater good of the country and world. Only once each human can admit what he or she has done wrong in the past will that person be able to make positive changes in going forward in helping all of society.

We need to stop the battle against each other and instead unify in ideologies that will work towards peace. It is our job as humans to aid each other in protecting lives and our planet.

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