Romi Sussman

With their country on their backs

These are my sons and my daughters.

I look at the lot of them sitting around with their feet up and their heads tipped back.

Some are smoking outside.

Others are checking social media, checking out the news, checking in with Mom.


I think about these kids. They could be in a dorm room hanging out after class.

Laughing about the day or the girl they like,

The one who likes them.

They could be planning trips, going home soon, studying for exams.

Or not.


In the land that we left this is what they’d be doing.

This is what I was doing at their age.


But these young people have their feet up at the Pina Chama (the Soldier’s Warm Corner)

In between missions.

Their job is to keep us alive.

They’ve got their country on their backs.

And while they might have a girlfriend or their mom on speed dial,

Their job right now isn’t to learn for the next test, but to learn for tomorrow’s mission.

To get a few minutes of rest, and a bit of food, before setting out again to defend us.

To keep us safe.


I  look at the young – oh so young – faces

Already creased with the dirt

And the worry of their people

And I pray that their shoulders are wide enough to support

The burden of a nation.

That their arms are strong enough

And their hearts tough enough.

But not too tough to enjoy

The camaraderie someday in that dorm room

The joy at the chuppah

The awe standing in front of a baby’s crib.


But not today.

Today, they are keeping us alive.

About the Author
Romi Sussman is a teacher and writer. When she's not at her computer, she's juggling raising six boys ages 13-23 and conquering daily life as an Olah. She enjoys blogging here and on her personal blog at
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