Jewish World Review Sept. 21, 2001 / 4 Tishrei, 5762

Greg Crosby

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"Stand beside her and guard her " -- THERE'S nothing like a sneak attack on America to rouse the love of country in its people. Suddenly we are no longer Democrat and Republican or black and white, we are Americans united against a common foe. Factions which divided us and took up so much of our national discourse last week, seem insignificant in the wake of what has been described as the most horrendous enemy attack ever perpetrated on American soil. Once again America has found its patriotism.

Likewise, this national catastrophe has at once brought G-d back into the hearts of what had seemed to be an ever-increasing American secular society. The idea of members of congress standing shoulder to shoulder singing "G-d Bless America" would have been unthinkable two weeks ago. Like rebellious teen-agers who had turned their backs on their parents, but suddenly run back into the arms of Mom and Dad in their time of need, we as a nation have been returning to G-d in our time of grief.

Watching the services held at the Washington National Cathedral last Friday, it was difficult to imagine that many of the political leaders sitting in that church were the same people who have fought to eliminate prayer and any reference to G-d, including the Ten Commandments, in our schools and other government institutions over the years. As the services were held, they bowed their heads, they listened to clergy from every faith speak in the most holy of terms, they wept, they prayed.

G-d and religious-based faith has always been as important a component in what makes America America as personal freedom and civil liberties. Probably more so. The founding fathers' faith in G-d Almighty sustained them during the most turbulent and disheartening times of our nation's birth. Throughout our history, during America's darkest days, through civil war, through national disasters, assassinations, world wars, and internal civil disobedience American leaders and the public at large have looked to G-d for strength and solace. It's no accident that the phrase "In G-d We Trust" is printed on our money. So, in these gut-wrenching heart-breaking times, America's eyes turn once again toward Heaven. All but the most cynical and agnostic among us have prayed for the families which were torn apart by Arab terrorism. We've prayed for ourselves, thanking G-d that our loved ones were spared. We've prayed for America -- asking G-d for the courage and wisdom to do the right thing. As of now, America has indeed, once again, found G-d. But how long will it last?

Once the initial pain subsides, as we get further and further away from September 11th will we still pray as visibly together as Americans? Will we invoke the name of G-d as unashamedly as we do now? Human nature and history tells us that we probably won't. However, let's hope that it sticks with us a little longer this time. America needs to believe in G-d. It gives our country a clarity and focus that we would otherwise be missing.

The Jewish High Holy Days season have began. Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, represent the most holy of all the Jewish holidays. Make no mistake, America was targeted because it is a freedom-loving country which has supported another freedom-loving country, Israel.

At this New Year and time of reflection, let us pray for strength and courage for all the good and decent people everywhere who have been hurt by the terrorist monsters and the evil countries which shelter them. Let us ask G-d for forgiveness for our past sins. And, with G-d's help, may we stay resolute and united as we move forward to eradicate the world, once and for all, of the cancer which began in the Middle East and which has now spread to our shores. May He give us the strength to completely wipe out this enemy of humanity. G-d bless America.

JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. You may contact him by clicking here.

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