Soldier Boy, Round Two

I sent my boy off to the army today, again. It doesn’t get any easier second time around. One would think it would, but it doesn’t. I’ve been here before, exactly one year ago, at the central conscription center in Tel Hoshomer, dropping my older son off for his 16 month-long army service. It was hard then, despite knowing that he was not in a ‘kravi’ or combat unit, but rather in a support unit of ‘tovalah’, transport, supply and delivery. He learned to drive military vehicles and is now licensed to drive any type of car and most trucks here. His responsibilities included travelling all over Israel to bring food and military supplies to bases from north to south, east to west.

While he enjoyed driving, enjoyed the freedom on the road, the scenery and the vital role he played in the military, his heart was elsewhere. He yearned to serve in a combat unit and did whatever it took to achieve that goal. He raised his profile in November, went back to yeshiva for four months, and today, a day after Purim, we relived this scene all over again.

I sent my son off to the army today, again. But this time, to a combat unit, to tanks. He went with a smile on his face and determination in his heart. His principles and values are firm and his eyes wide open for the challenges that lay ahead. He did have some anxiety and a little uneasiness about starting anew, though. He is proud, Yechezkel, and determined to be the best soldier he can be, to bring honor to his country while defending her. And that is his goal: To defend and support the land of Israel.

I sent my son off to the army today, this time to a base in southern Israel, near Eilat. I kissed him and hugged him, shed some tears, and told him repeatedly how much I love him and how proud of him I am. I was hesitant to let him out of my embrace, reminiscent of the day of his bris, when I was reluctant then to relinquish him from my arms to the hands of the Mohel. It is so hard letting go.

I sent my boy off to the army today, again, to learn, to grow, to develop the necessary skills he will need to perform his job well. I know he will be a proud strong, confident soldier. This is a worrisome time again for us here yet it doesn’t help to worry. What good will it do? I pray that when he completes his now extended service, on July 19th, 2012, he will return once again to the waiting embrace of his mother, safe and sound, he a better human being for it, I relieved, and we, as a country, a better people, a safer nation, because of his and all the other chayalim and chayalot who dedicate and sacrifice for us.

I sent my boy off to the army today, again. As Yogi Berra once said, “it’s deja vu all over again.”

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