Tzemach Yehudah Richter
Tzemach Yehudah Richter

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett, Flight 93 hero Tom Burnett brings it home to me


Soon after the Surfside Collapse took place, the following story was one of those that stood out for me:

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said he came across the girl, who appeared to be about 11 or 12, sitting near the site where the Champlain Towers South collapsed early Thursday.

He had seen her earlier, with one of her parents, and talked to them. The other parent was in the building when it collapsed and was among the more than 150 people still missing, Burkett said.

The mayor said he knelt down beside the girl Sunday night and asked if she was OK. “She said, ‘Yes,'” he said. He said she was looking at her phone, reading a Jewish prayer to herself.

“And that really brought it home to me,” Burkett said. “She wasn’t crying, she was just lost. She didn’t know what to do, what to say, who to talk to.”

“It’s horrific,” he said. “This is disturbing, but that is just a tiny, tiny example of the impact that this collapse has had on our community.”

Of course, we now know that little girl’s name is Elisheva Cohen, who lost her father Dr. Brad Cohen along with her uncle Dr. Gary Cohen in the Surfside tragedy.

The rescue workers recovered both bodies at the same time according to many reports, but Brad Cohen’s body was only identified many days later which officially made him the 93rd victim according to the following :

Charles Burkett’s Name Reminds Me Of Flight 93 Terrorist Victim Tom Burnett Buried In Fort Snelling, Minnesota.

Charles Burkett’s last name is very similar to Tom Burnett who played a major role in the attempt to rescue Flight 93 from four terrorists on September 11, 2001. Tom’s family established a foundation to honor his name which can be viewed at the following link:

In the middle of the main page, there is a section “Remembering Tom” which contains three sub-sections, one of which is labeled “Watch” and includes two sections of an NBC program “Dateline” with Maria Shiver detailing Tom’s life.


The second section also features in the link above.

At the 4-minute, 10-second mark, the funeral service for Tom is shown taking place at Fort Snelling. That is the same Army base from where I served my country as a member of the US Army Reserves.  I wrote about it in a Blog in which I talked about Flight 93 at the following link:

The two relevant paragraphs appear as follows in this Blog-

I am a veteran who served my country proudly in the US Army Reserves. I volunteered to go into an Intelligence Unit located at Fort Snelling in St. Paul, MN very close to Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport. I first passed a security clearance, and then was stationed at Fort Dix in NJ, for basic training. My MOS training took place in Fort Devens, Mass. I was a Morse Code Interceptor, which meant that we wore earphones and would listen to a series of dots and dashes that came over at first at very slow speed, but as we became better at it, the speed increased, until we were ready to receive our assignments regarding where the Army was sending us.

It was at the height of the Vietnam War, there was one other reservist in our class of 32, and the rest of the soldiers were all drafted. So we were all called into one room, and the officer in charge opened an official envelope from Army headquarters and he said that I was going back to my Unit in Fort Snelling, while the other Reservist was assigned to his unit in Pittsburgh. The rest of the class, all 30 soldiers had been assigned to Vietnam.

That was in 1972, when I visited New York City and stopped by to see the newly built World Trade Center on my way home from completing my MOS training. With the other Reservist being sent home to Pittsburgh from my MOS class, that makes it even more relevant to this connection with Tom Burnett because Flight 93 crashed very close to Pittsburgh.

My Commander Refused To Allow Me To Take Off Shabbat So “I Did Something” As Tom Burnett Phrased It

I previously wrote about the encounter with my commanding officer who refused to allow me the right to practice my religion by demanding I come to four-hour reserve drills on Shabbat. I eventually was forced to give up my Morse Code training and was assigned to another unit which allowed me to practice my religion. But I never used my Morse Code training again.

I feel strongly that this decision to follow Torah helps me to decipher and make sense out of all the current events and challenges we are facing today.

About the Author
Born and raised in the Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park. Married to a South African, we lived in Johannesburg from 1979 to 1996. Made Aliyah with our seven children on Parshat Lech Lecha. BSB Accounting Degree from the University of Minnesota. Investment Portfolio Manager /Fundamental And Technical Analyst. Wrote in-depth research on companies, markets, commodities for leading financial publications. Served in the US Army Reserves Semi Retired spending quality time with my wife, children, grandchildren and attend Kollel while analyzing current events as they relate to Torah and Mitzvahs.
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