Paula R. Stern – Who You Are by the Gun You Carry
This week, a bunch of mothers in Israel breathed a bit easier, slept a bit more deeply. Their sons had come home for the weekend, as mine did. Saturday night, I opened Facebook and saw that a mother had posted of her son’s rifle resting where he had put it – on Strawberry Shortcake sheets (probably not his bed, ya think?).
Another mother posted a picture a few minutes later. This one was of two rifles resting on her couch – both her sons were home for the weekend. David was resting on the couch, playing on his phone and I called him over, thinking that both pictures were cute and probably to show him I’m not the only mother celebrating their son being home.
Instead of laughing about the sheets or making a comment about there being two rifles there, he said the names of the units to which he believed the soldiers belonged. To me, rifles are rifles and it’s taken me years to tell the difference between them. I know that Elie had an M16; that Davidi has a Tavor. There are long ones and mini ones and I don’t remember who had what.
So I posted to the women about how funny it was that my son saw units where we saw the sheets and mentioned the two units Davidi said. The one with the two guns came back and said something about her sons preferring that she not mention what unit they are in.
I smiled and told Davidi what she wrote and he turned around and said, “ok, so that means he’s in” and mentioned another name – a sub-unit of the first he’d said before. A few minutes later, in a private message, the mother wrote to me and explained that her son was indeed in that elite sub-unit and I wrote back that David had already said that!
A short time later, the second mother came on and confirmed David’s first guess. Three for three and a thought. Two people will look at a picture and focus on different things. Like the other mothers, we focused on the setting behind the rifles our sons brought into our homes. David and I would guess other soldiers, focus on the rifle and what it tells them.
It’s a reminder that there is so much more to our sons now that they are soldiers – a whole life and a wealth of knowledge we’ll never have. A reminder that they walk where we will never go, do things we’ll never do and in many cases will never even know about.
I can’t look at the pictures the same way now. I stare at the rifles and want them to go away. They protect my son and enable him to protect others but I long for a time when what will draw their attention will be all that surrounds what they do. The army is indeed all-consuming at times.