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.
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.