Today, November 11th, marks the American ‘holiday’ of Veteran’s Day. The day was meant to celebrate the brave servicemen who risked their lives for America and were lucky enough to come home alive. Sadly, the day has largely become an excuse for sales and shopping, as well as dreaded bank holiday and day of school closures that is cursed because most parents still have to work.
But things are totally different when you’re forced to fight for your existence on a daily basis. When the war is literally in your backyard, at your train station or on your local highway, everyone becomes a soldier, and just making it home at night makes you a veteran in the war that is everyday life. I want to say that it’s not always like this, but I think that thousands of years of Jewish history prove otherwise. There are times when we civilians are not on the front lines – and there are times that we are, every minute of every day. This is one of those times.
In every army, each soldier has a specific job. There are those that fight in combat, and those who support the combat units. There are those who build the camps, and those who counsel the injured. In the army of life, everyone too has a job…most times, more than one. These days, it is my job to protect those in my “unit”. I am the counselor required to explain the grim realities of war, and to dry the tears when nightmares inevitably come. I am the captain who decides whether to take my kids into the battlefield or to keep them safe at home under lock and key. I am the search and rescue team who goes out looking for my kids the minute they are late, always wondering deep down if something terrible happened.
I write this all with a touch of cynicism. Most days I have no reason to leave my neighborhood, which means I’m seldom on the front lines. But my friends and neighbors do. My husband does…and my kids do. And so, today, on Veteran’s Day, I salute everyone who ever donned a uniform to serve their country…and the thousands of others who are just brave enough to go out and fight the war of Jewish existence with every ounce of bravery they have. Today, you are all veterans.