On Monday morning, Upper School students paid tribute to our American veterans. A guest veteran addressed each grade, at their respective minyan. The veterans shared their personal reasons for serving and our students were in awe of their humility, their dedication to serve, and how relatable they each were.
Freshmen heard from our own Mr. Dwight Johnson, Upper School Security Guard. Sergeant Johnson served as a combat engineer in the army from 1976-1984, immediately following the Vietnam War. In 1979 he was deployed to Germany and served in the cities of Dusseldorf, Munster, Bamburg and Munich. Sergeant Johnson was stationed only yards away from the Berlin Wall and East Berlin which was then occupied by Soviet forces. He served two tours of duty in Germany, 2½ years in each tour.
Sophomores hear from our own Mr. Daniel Rosa, Upper School Security Guard. Mr. Rosa was first deployed to Iran during the hostage situation under the Carter administration on a mission to rescue American hostages. His second deployment was to the Island of Grenada as part of Operation Urgent Fury, in 1983, a mission to free medical students being held hostage by the revolutionary military government. By the end of Sargent Rosa's military career, he had conducted over 100 military jumps.
Juniors heard from Mr. Edmund Rosenblum, Jacob and Daniel H.'s Great Grandfather.
Jacob introduced his great grandfather to his grade with the following:
My great-grandfather, Edmund Rosenblum was born 98 years ago in Vienna, Austria. When he was 14 he had to stop attending school because Jews were banned from reaching higher education. He then started working in my great-great-grandfather's tailor shop until 1938 when he witnessed Kristallnacht, forcing his family into hiding, each member in a different home. My great-grandfather was able to escape with one of his sisters to New York City. He arrived in America penniless in 1939 and started to work as a tailor during the day and attended school at night. In 1942, he was drafted into the American army, and I'll let him tell you the rest of his story.
Mr. Rosenblum was drafted into the US military and served courageously in Europe for 4 years, and his fluency in German was of great help to the allies in interrogating Nazi war criminals. In 1945, he was stationed in the Philippines, and because of his sewing skills, he was "commissioned" to sew the first Filipino-American flag.
Seniors and students who attended the Sephardic minyan heard from Captain Jordan Lender. Captain Lender attended Solomon Schechter of Westchester. After graduating from Indiana University in May 2010, he was accepted to Officer Candidates School for the United States Marine Corps and later commissioned in 2013. He explained that just days before his Bar Mitzvah, there was the infamous attack on the Twin Towers, 9/11, and his world turned upside down, all family celebrations were cancelled, and the feeling of doom pervaded. Although only 13, he knew then that he'd have to find a way to give back to America, to serve his country, and he did!
In 2015 he became a Chief Information Officer for Marine Forces South. As CIO, he led a 50-person staff in the planning, installation, operation, and defense of Command, Control, Communications, and Computers systems for all Marine Corps activity in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. He told of how he had led the first seder ever held for the US Marine Corps. He explained how not all service means combat and gunfire, but can also consist of caring for the local populations whose humanistic needs must be met, such as when earthquakes and hurricanes leave people homeless and in desperate need of care. The Jewish adage, Olam Chesed Yibaneh, Captain Jordan said, was and remains his guiding principle.
The Hebrew Prayer for the safety of the American Military Forces was recited after each veteran's presentation. Throughout the three lunch periods, student volunteers packaged 100 Thanksgiving gift bags that will be mailed to our American servicemen and women serving on faraway bases.