Israeli soldiers say goodbye, Central bus station.(Photo by Avital Pinnick)
I like to think of myself as a tolerant person. There is one group I am not tolerant of; those who do not respect and honor our soldiers. When I say "our soldiers" I am speaking of our freedom fighters; the Israeli Defense Forces, the US Military and all our allies; The Canadians and…not sure how many we actually have.
Soldiers are not political, they do not make policy, they are simply serving their country, and they do so with honor.
How many of us think of them? How many of us realize that we owe them our freedom, every minute of every day?
Imagine this. You are a soldier. You are on the front lines, have not seen a proper toilet in weeks, can not recall what a decent night sleep feels like, or a good long shower, or a hot meal. You have dirt all over your body; have not changed your clothing in quite some time. But in your thoughts are the folks back home. You are thinking that it is all worth while because you are defending them, you are their iron wall. Without you, they are defenseless.
Your reward? Sometimes there is no reward; sometimes you never get to go home. All you have is the feeling that you are doing what needs to be done, what others have done before you to protect you, what hopefully others will do in the future to protect your children. In an ideal world this would not be necessary but we do not live in an ideal world. We live in a world where an army is a necessity, not a choice.
My grandfather and many other relatives served in the US military during World War Two. We lost a cousin in the Battle of the Bulge while other relatives were being taken to concentration camps. (Better known as camps of mass destruction). My father, brothers, and nephew served in the Israel Defense Forces, as did I. My brother and nephew saw action. Thank God both came home unharmed.
US soldiers gather in prayer.
When I see a soldier in the streets of my town, Maaleh Adumim, or in nearby Jerusalem, or anywhere in Israel or in the USA, I stop for a moment and think. Really, I pray. Please God, watch over this young man or woman, guard them from harm, watch their every step and bring them home safely to their families and friends.
I see them smiling on the streets of Jerusalem, enjoying some time off, sipping a coke or enjoying a falafel but in my mind I also see the same young people in Lebanon or in Gaza. I see them tired, covered in dust, seeking cover from enemy bullets. I know that soon they will be returning to that hell to face Hizbullah or Hamas. I look at them with admiration, and I pray, God in Heaven and on earth, watch over them, they are so precious.