I called Shmulik to find out when he was coming home. It’s silly to call a soldier during the first three months of training – they can’t answer (aren’t even supposed to have the phone in their pockets). This is when they teach them, shape them, guide them, create them into the soldier they will be.
Of course, he didn’t answer – I’m not even sure I can say I was disappointed. The nice thing was that he called me back later and I asked him what he was doing and he answered, “I’m protecting Israel.” It was the laugh in his voice that warned me he wasn’t serious.
“Against what?” I asked – images of them walking around base filled my mind, but it’s too early.
“Against plants,” he said and we both laughed. Apparently, this is one of the details Elie didn’t tell me about but when new recruits enter the base, the first thing they do…is clean up the base. So for the last week…Shmulik and these new recruits have been picking up garbage, weeding, and cleaning the base.
There’s a deeper message there for Shmulik and these soldiers. Next week, he’ll begin the “real” soldier stuff. He’ll get a gun and begin to learn its weight, its responsibility, its reality. This week, as he killed weeds, he served his country…that was the message I think. By wearing the uniform, by giving your time to this country…all that you do is part of the whole – from jobnik to combat soldier…from gardener to pilot.
So, my son, with no gun (wearing sandals because he dropped a metal bed on his foot and got permission to wear sandals instead of boots for a few days), protected Israel this week.