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St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

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Remembering Lt. Schulte, Celebrating Lt. Crews, and supporting Israeli youth

(L) Air Force 1st Lt. Roslyn Schulte was killed in Afghanistan in 2009. (R) U.S. Army 1st Lt. Emily Crews shares a hug with her grandmother, Elsie Shemin Roth.

The legacy of Roz lives on

For many people, Memorial Day weekend signals the official start of summer. School’s out, swimming pools open and temperatures heat up. 

But Memorial Day — the actual day — honors fallen service members of the U.S. military. It’s not about school or pools or warm weather, it’s about paying homage to those who fought for our country and lost their lives in the process.

I’ll admit I never much contemplated what Memorial Day stands for until 15 years ago, when I – along with 1,300 others — attended the funeral of Air Force 1st Lt. Roslyn Schulte, who was killed in May of 2009 by a roadside bomb near Kabul, Afghanistan. She was 25 years old, and the first female USAFA graduate to be killed in action in the global war on terrorism.

Roslyn “Roz” Schulte is the daughter of Robert and Susie Schulte of Ladue; the family has long belonged to Congregation Temple Israel and Roslyn was confirmed there. It was also on Memorial Day in 2009 that TI Rabbi Emeritus Mark Shook presided over her funeral and said, “Memorial Day will never be the same. No one in this place now will ever take Memorial Day for granted again.”

He was so right. 

By all accounts, Lt. Schulte was nothing short of extraordinary. I can vividly recall what those who spoke about her said and the positive effect she had on so many. In 2010, Lt. Schulte achieved an impressive first posthumously in becoming the first woman to be awarded the National Intelligence Medal for Valor. Only four others received this honor before her.

In her memory, Lt. Schulte’s parents championed an award that is given each year since her death to a first-class cadet who embodies the values their daughter lived by: “impeccable character, unwavering leadership and spirit of service.” This year’s 1st Lt. Roslyn Schulte Award for Exemplary Cadet Character and Leadership will be given out Tuesday, May 28, at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. Her parents plan to be at the ceremony, as they are every year, to meet the recipient and nominees and their families.

In addition, Lt. Schulte has been memorialized at her high school alma mater, John Burroughs, with a scholarship in her name. The annual Missouri Girls Lacrosse All Star Game is dedicated to her; she was inducted into the Missouri Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2018.

Sometimes when I go to The J, I’ll look over at the memorial plaque near the flagpole in front of the Arts & Education Building that was dedicated in Lt. Schulte’s honor. Even now, 15 years after her passing, Roz Schulte continues to be an inspiration and role model to so many as well as a reminder of the many Jewish veterans who served our country so valiantly.

Talking about serving our country . . . 

I attended a commissioning ceremony on Monday (a week before Memorial Day) for Emily Crews, 35, who was sworn in as a 1st Lt. in the U.S. Army. A critical care nurse, Lt. Crews just completed her first year of a doctoral program at Webster University to become a certified registered nurse anesthetist. The ceremony took place at the Brentmoor Retirement Community, where Crews’ 95-year-old grandmother, Elsie Shemin Roth, lives. 

You could say that the U.S. military runs in Crews’ blood – she is the fourth generation to serve. She was in Washington, D.C. with many of her family members in 2015 when her great grandfather — Elsie’s father, Army Sgt. William Shemin — was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama for his heroism in World War I. 

Elsie had worked for decades to right what she felt was a terrible wrong in securing the medal for her father. While he was awarded a Purple Heart as well as the nation’s second-highest military honor, the Distinguished Service Cross for “extraordinary heroism,” there was never any explanation as to why he didn’t receive the Medal of Honor — the nation’s highest military decoration of valor. Elsie and many others believe that he was initially overlooked for this award because he was Jewish, and antisemitism was rampant at the time. 

I mentioned that to Lt. Crews, who said she hoped that attitudes had changed in the military over the last century. 

“I think that like all institutions, change is slow,” she said. “But my grandmother certainly has helped propel some of that. And from what I hear, I’m a lot like my great grandfather.

“I’m really proud to represent my Jewish community as well as my family and my St. Louis community,” she continued. “It’s part of my identity that I don’t hide.”

Elsie beamed throughout the ceremony — she couldn’t have been prouder. 

“She’s on an amazing trajectory,” said Elsie after the ceremony. “As a nurse anesthetist, she will be working at the highest level of nursing care. With the army behind her, she will expand her knowledge so much, to many things the university cannot offer her.

“I also want everyone to see that there is a Jewish woman up there — that Jews do care about our country. It’s not just about Israel, we stand up for our country and fight for it, too.”

Another way to commemorate Memorial Day

Aaron Hadley, director of Camp Ben Frankel, explained that in late April, he was contacted by an Israeli mom desperate to find a way for her daughters to escape the daily terrors of living on the Lebanon border. She could only afford the cost of airfare to get her girls to an American Jewish camp.

“We thought there must be an existing program or funding available for Israeli families like hers. After investigating and asking around, we were surprised to find nothing,” said Hadley.

“We also asked around to see if there were other families like hers that were in need of a respite this summer. Through our camp’s alumni network in Israel, we heard from many more families desperate to help their children this summer. That’s when we decided to try to do something to help.”

So now, Camp Ben Frankel has launched an emergency fundraising campaign to try to bring up to 17 Israeli children affected by the events of Oct. 7 to the camp this summer. The Jewish sleepaway camp is located in Makanda, Ill., about two hours south of St. Louis.

The goal is to raise more than $110,000 to help these children, ages 10-17, attend camp. Hadley said the camp can accommodate one child for every $6,520 raised between now and May 28.

He also said the camp wants to help these girls and other kids like them — children displaced from their homes after Oct. 7 or living on the border with Lebanon. 

“They face the threat of rocket attacks. Their parents have been called into active duty or volunteer on their kibbutz emergency response crews,” said Hadley. “They are living with war. Their parents just want them to have a fun and safe summer.

“Imagine the impact of a summer filled with games, crafts and outdoor activities for a child who has spent every day since Oct. 7th living with fear and uncertainty. Your donation will not only provide them with moments of joy but also contribute to their emotional well-being and resilience.”

Hadley suggests a few ways of helping, including donating, be it a one-time or monthly gift. He also asks readers to share the campaign by word-of-mouth or on social media.

To donate, go to bit.ly/camp-fundraiser.

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About the Contributor
Ellen Futterman
Ellen Futterman, Editor-in-Chief
A native of Westbury, New York, Ellen Futterman broke into the world of big city journalism as a general assignment reporter for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner in the latter part of the 20th century. Deciding that Tinsel Town was not exciting enough for her, she moved on to that hub of glamour and sophistication, Belleville, Ill., where she became a feature writer, columnist and food editor for the Belleville News-Democrat. A year later the St. Louis Post-Dispatch scooped her up, neither guessing at the full range of her talents, nor the extent of her shoe collection. She went on to work at the Post-Dispatch for 25 years, during which time she covered hard news, education, features, investigative projects, profiles, sports, entertainment, fashion, interiors, business, travel and movies. She won numerous major local and national awards for her reporting on "Women Who Kill" and on a four-part series about teen-age pregnancy, 'Children Having Children.'" Among her many jobs at the newspaper, Ellen was a columnist for three years, Arts and Entertainment Editor, Critic-at-large and Daily Features (Everyday) Editor. She invented two sections from scratch, one of which recently morphed from Get Out, begun in 1995, to GO. In January of 2009, Ellen joined the St. Louis Jewish Light as its editor, where she is responsible for overseeing editorial operations, including managing both staff members and freelancers. Under her tutelage, the Light has won 16 Rockower Awards — considered the Jewish Pulitzer’s — including two personally for Excellence in Commentary for her weekly News & Schmooze column. She also is the communications content editor for the Arts and Education Council of St. Louis. Ellen and her husband, Jeff Burkett, a middle school principal, live in Olivette and have three children. Ellen can be reached at 314-743-3669 or at [email protected].