In Kabul, Afghanistan, he exhibited courage under fire. When he came to Lawrence, New York, he was teary-eyed. Major David Chartier, the commanding officer of the combat outpost Bala Hissar in Afghanistan, was the keynote speaker at Rambam Mesivta’s annual Veterans Day assembly. Since its inception in 1992, Rambam has paid tribute to American forces fighting abroad. Some previous speakers were servicemen who liberated concentration camps, and others served in Korea and Vietnam. More recently, Rambam paid recognition to our fighting forces in Afghanistan.
According to the rosh mesivta, Rabbi Zev Friedman, “it is our responsibility to express our hakarat ha’tov, gratitude and deep appreciation, to the brave men and women who risk their lives in order to ensure our safety and our ability to live freely as Torah Jews in the United States.” As a concrete expression of appreciation, the students at Rambam sent packages containing hundreds of pounds of necessities to those fighting overseas. Packages include items that are specially requested by the battalion in addition to standard items such as snacks and toiletries.
Rabbi Yotav Eliach, Rambam’s principal, said, “These packages contain more than the necessities that the soldiers asked for. It contains the intangible and extremely important message that we back at home appreciate the sacrifices they are making and stand behind them.”
Major Chartier’s unit in Afghanistan was the beneficiary of these items last year. After finishing his tour of duty in Afghanistan, he moved back to the States and he now works in the Pentagon. He came to Rambam to share his experiences and speak about the challenges that face our soldiers every day.
He also conducted a fascinating question-and-answer period with the entire school. Soon thereafter, students Porat Becker and Sam Cohen recited the Hebrew and English version of the prayer composed by the Orthodox Union for American soldiers.
Mr. Hillel Goldman, Rambam’s assistant principal, commented, “The sincere appreciation and respect that the boys exhibited speaks volumes about their middos and sensitivity towards all people. It reflects the values that they learn at home, which are also being reinforced here at Rambam.”
Rabbi Friedman then presented Major Chartier with a beautiful plaque expressing the appreciation of the Rambam community for all that he has done. Senior soloist Tani Martin sang a rousing rendition of the national anthem in a tribute to the major and his wife, who joined the ceremony. At the conclusion of the assembly, Major Chartier presented Rambam Mesivta with an American flag and a plaque that reads as follows:
So that all shall know, this flag was flown in the face of the enemy, illuminating the dark by the light of justice. It bears witness to the counterinsurgency operations conducted by the United States Army soldiers, commanded by your friend, Major David Chartier, against terrorist forces threatening the freedom of the United States of America and the world . . .
Flown in honor of my friends at Rambam Mesivta High School on September 11, 2012 at combat outpost Bala Hissar, Kabul, Afghanistan.
Your support meant the world to my men and me. Thank you so very much. v