Every year, I help coordinate a national convention for technical writers in Jerusalem. Two years ago, Elie was finishing his Commanders Course. The ceremony was on a Wednesday, the day before the conference. He was then given the next five days on vacation and so was able to attend the conference and help out. I was so proud of him that I announced it during the opening ceremony – Elie was out in the Vendor Hall helping man the table for my company.
I told people that when they see him, they should say, “Ken, hamefaked” – “Yes, Commander.” It is what soldiers answer when ordered to do something, and so many people all day long went to Elie and recognized his new status. Elie was amused, though pretended to be annoyed; I was enthralled. This year, as the conference approaches, Elie will have just been released from the army.
Of course, everyone that attends the conference will know that Elie will still be a soldier – in the reserves. Before he leaves, he will go to the Induction Center where it all started. He will return his gun, his uniforms…and immediately be given papers that show he remains part of the Israeli army…but in the reserves. He’ll be a soldier, even at the conference, and I’ll still be a soldier’s mother. As of now, Shmulik will be at the conference too…and five days later, something I’ll try not to think about at the conference, Shmulik will go to the very Induction Center where his brother had just left. Elie will enter the Induction Center in uniform…and leave in regular clothes. Shmulik will enter in regular clothes…and leave in uniform.
Before I let that break me, I’ll get back to the name tag of this post. Each attendee is given a name tag with their company name just below their own. It helps people know who they are talking to and helps avoid those embarrassing moments when someone comes over and recognizes them while they haven’t got a clue about the other person’s identity.
Elie will again come as a representative of my company. He’ll help make sure the computers are working, move boxes that need to be moved. He’ll sit at our table or run to the car. And so, my office manager is making the tags for all the attendees and while doing so, asked what she should put under Elie’s name. “Army?” she joked.
And I told her to make two tags for him. The first will say “Elie, Artillery Commander” the second, which he will wear after he laughs, will say the name of my company as expected. She’s already put a small picture of a nagmash (armored personnel carrier) on the tag as well.
Personally, I’m hoping he chooses the first one!