Paula R. Stern

Paula R. Stone – Moments They’ll Remember Forever

Paula R. Stone – Moments They’ll Remember Forever

We all have days we remember – anniversaries, births, weddings, etc. and we go through our lives collecting memories that we pull out and relive or cherish long into the future. As a parent, I’m always amazed at what my children have retained, what days or places or things we did that somehow miraculously turned into memories.

Rarely, have I had a stronger feeling in “real-time” that this moment is one that would be remembered…long into the future and yet, yesterday was one of them for David. As he nears the end of his service, he has amassed quite a number of vacation days. In many cases, soldiers end of completing their service without actually being given all the days to which they are owed. It happens…all the time.

But mostly it happens “after the fact.” After the fact is a concept I have always loved in Judaism. There are rules that need to be followed, laws that need to be honored. But what happens if  you didn’t; what does it mean if you don’t? Well, “after the fact”, there might be areas that call for being lenient. You were supposed to do it this way, but without knowing it, you did something else. What happens now? Well, if you’d asked the question before, the Rabbi would say do it this way but as it is too late to change it, the “after the fact” rule kicks in and may (or may not) change what you need to do.

So, before the army accidentally didn’t give his unit the vacation days due to the soldiers, apparently one of the commanding officers told the soldiers that they would not be getting them.

For all that people sometimes criticize the army, the fact is there are mechanisms in place to ensure that the army acts a certain way – not only in warfare where, without question, Israel has repeatedly proven itself to be among the most moral of all armies, one that works harder than most (if not all) to avoid civilian casualties, etc…but also within the army.

If a soldier feels he is being treated unfairly, there are many options for him or her. Beyond the commanding officer, is the commanding officer’s commanding officer…and so it goes up the chain of command. And then, there are special “ears” ready to listen. One of the soldiers in David’s unit (not David), complained that they were being denied their vacation days.

The party involved called the MAHAT – the head of the Givati division and asked how it was possible that these soldiers would lose their vacation. He was not aware of this and so called down the line. “Is it true we are stealing their vacation days?”

And then issued an order that each boy be given his full vacation. And so, David has been given a day here, two days there and now, all of Chanuka. The days are speeding by. It’s been amazing having him home.

I arranged a family vacation down in Eilat and we rented an apartment. We asked Chaim to come with us. Years ago, we asked his older brother, Ya’akov to come along and when my two oldest children argued about who was going to drive, I handed Ya’akov the keys and he laughed and told the others to get in the car.

This time, David and Chaim split the drive and then went together for a memory I know will be with David forever. And then, together, they did a dive…into a world that I have always loved.

The diving school took videos and pictures. Chaim took an underwater camera and got even better shots.

I don’t know if, like Chaim, David will decide to be certified and make scuba diving some hobby he looks forward to on a regular basis. I do know that no matter how often he does it in the future, he’ll always remember this first dive.

Paula blogs @ A Soldier’s Mother

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