Before the ceremony at Ammunition Hill (and yes, I still want to write about Ammunition Hill...but not yet), the parents were ushered into a comfortable air-conditioned room where the officers spoke to us. One showed a PowerPoint presentation that made me laugh and think of recent articles I've seen about PowerPoint and the army. One was about a general in the US who looked at a PowerPoint slide and said something like, "If we could understand that slide, we'd win the war."
The presenter was a young man. I teach many skills in our technical writing class, including using PowerPoint and presentation skills...and this young man broke a whole bunch of rules. He read from the slides...he filled the slides with words...on and on. But the message was that they were taking our sons, building them into men, taking care of them, and guide them in the months to come.
The head of the base spoke. This is the second time we've heard him speak...the first time was at the Parents' Day event some weeks ago. Again he introduced himself and mentioned his wife and four girls. He smiled again, laughing with the parents. Yes, working on a combat base with mostly male soldiers, he was told that was an omen when his wife was expecting his first child, his second...those and the two who followed were girls, he laughed.
After the smiles and a repeat of much of what he said that last time, this time he was more serious. "We are preparing your sons for war. The harder we train them, the better."
"It might be this year, maybe in the next three years, but there will be another war, and we will be ready."
It isn't a message a mother wants to hear. I was there as Chaim and Yaakov's adopted mother, standing for their family to cheer Chaim on this time as we did at Yaakov's ceremonies...but it was a message to me as Shmulik's mother, as Elie's mother, and amazingly enough, as Davidi's mother, even though he is only 14.
There were messages of pride, messages of encouragement. We were asked to support them at home, give them love, warm food, time to rest...and leave the rest to them.
We went out to celebrate Chaim's ceremony and Elie's birthday - hamburgers and tons of food all around for everyone. A moment of together. I sat beside my husband and watched as the "children" simply enjoyed each other. They laughed, they talked...they sang Elie happy birthday and shared different samplings of food. These are the precious moments we save in our hearts.