Does any American heart not constrict at the news of the twenty-two SEALS and eight other troops who died when their helicopter was hit in Afghanistan as they went to rescue comrades under fire? Yet the way of the world is that other than those personally affected, the rest of us move on rather quickly to other events. Our individual lives, economic concerns and even other tragic incidents rush to displace our momentary mourning. And for the most part, we are sadly unaware when troops die one at a time rather than in an attention-riveting number.
The tragedy of the deaths of these outstanding young men is far reaching. We have no way of knowing what potential benefit to the world went down in that crash. We do know that every SEAL team member faces rigorous physical, psychological and spiritual testing and that it is fair to project that these troops would have much to offer the world after their military service. Recently, there has been a spate of obituaries of elderly businessmen and scientists. Men whose accomplishments improved the lives of thousands through medical and technological advances they pioneered. Men who founded successful businesses that provided employment to thousands and useful products for millions. How many medical techniques and cures might these SEALS have found? How many business allowing thousands to live with dignity might they have formed? How many families would they have established or expanded which would have blessed all of us? We will never know.
As this blog posts, it is the tail end of the Jewish observance of Tisha B’av, the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av. This is the saddest day of the Jewish year, and one on which we recall tragedies dating from the Israelites’ years in the desert up to the current day. One’s thoughts naturally go to the millions of Jews over the ages whose lives were also violently cut off prematurely. What might the world look like had they lived? We will never know.