Monday, May 5, 2014

The souvenir

I didn't keep all that many souvenirs from my army service. A lot of it went very fast - tours in various places in the Gaza Strip, South Lebanon, lots of quick movements from one site to the next. But with Independence Day coming up, I found myself looking through the box of insignia, medals, combat badges and other memorabilia that someday my kids can divide up.

And I found my souvenir.

I got it just after I was promoted to Staff-Sergeant in an Air Force unit. We'd had a thick and heavy winter, full of heavy snow and torrential rains. It was spring, and I was responsible for running the Battalion Field Hospital. We were stationed alongside the Lebanon border and one day we - the combat medics - were assigned to a Combat Engineers' platoon. We watched as they peeled back a small section of the border fence between Israel and Lebanon and, wearing pillowpad shoes and using detectors and probes, they cleared a large minefield area near the road.

"Why are we doing this?" I asked.

"Because," said the 2nd Lieutenant from the Platoon, "the rains shifted the landmines here. And there are schoolkids from the Lebanese villages who pass by these areas. So - better to clear the area than, God forbid, having a kid blown up. Better to be good neighbors."

At the end of the operation, we watched as they closed up the fence. There was a small part left of the barbed wire left over. I clipped a piece of it to remind me of that day. And of what good borders should represent.

Here it is.

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