B is for brotherhood
For most soldiers a very different picture probably pops into their mind than does for me when they hear the word “brotherhood.” The obvious thing to say about brotherhood in the army would be something along the lines of, “These are the guys I will go to war with, they will have my back at the most crucial time, and I will have theirs. We will never let each other down.” However, that’s not the type brother and I am referring to. I think back to my real brother David. David is three years younger than me, but the difference is close enough that we were quite involved in one another’s lives while growing up. Even today after I have been out of the house for almost 3 years, we still remain very close. We always knew what was going on in the others life, and even if we fought, and often didn’t get along with each other, I always felt that I could identify with him. Whether with regards to our interests, study habits, social life, and whatever else, the number of similar things that we had going on in our lives, automatically created this bond between us that only someone with a brother could understand, I love my brother. When I think about brotherhood in the army I think about all of my fellow lone soldiers. Just knowing that they are going through the same hardships, and difficulties, even if I don’t know them personally, these are the people that I feel most at home with and that I can identify with. They’re the people that understand what it’s like to pretend to be actively engaged in conversation, but I actually only understand about 10% of what was said. They know how it is, not having seen your friends and family for countless months or even years, and when your friend who lives at home tells you it’s hard to close Shabbat because he’s missing his sister’s birthday, you shrug and say, “Yea, that must suck.” Of course in your mind, you’re thinking sarcastically, “Wow, I can’t imagine missing my sister’s birthday because of the army…” They get the craziness of living on your own and having to deal with the army’s lack of understanding, and how you can never be 100% independent, as hard as you try, and as badly as you want it, because you are always dependent, on the army, on the people around you, and the organizations that are there to support you, and without them. It just wouldn’t be sustainable. But then there’s also the good, there’s the amazing friends you meet along the way that you never would have met otherwise. The free barbecues and picnics and beer pong parties with The Lone Soldier Center. The uncomfortable yet exciting feeling of importance and pride when you go home in uniform and people stop you on the street to say thank you. The rush of relief when you finally run into an English speaker, and you’re able to talk like a human being again. And of course, the look of awe and respect that your non lone soldier friends have when they comprehend some of what you gave up in order to be here, serving in this country. These are the only people that get what it’s all about they are the ones who can identify with it all. What I’ve learned through this is that life throws a lot of balls at you, whether they are fastballs, curveballs, bouncy balls, or a pair of Katzin balls that comes out of nowhere and smacks you in the face with a Shabbat, it’s nice to have somebody to laugh about it all with. So B is for brotherhood, C you soon!