Leave it to Israel. At a time, when Memorial Day has already begun to fade in the memory of most Americans, Israel keeps Memorial Day alive in a most inspiring way. In addition to paying tribute to its fallen soldiers, with the day before Independence Day being solemnly set aside for that very purpose, Israel has shown that it is more than capable of paying tribute to living soldiers in a most heartwarming way.
Like any other country, Israel has its share of special needs individuals. Unlike any other country, Israel affords its special needs teenagers the opportunity of being treated like everyone else by inducting them into the army for a four year stint.
By doing so, Israel has given a new and meaningful definition to the term special. Up until now, the term special has been a politically correct way of defining individuals with disabilities or limitations. Thanks to the Israel Defense Forces, special now refers to the services provided by individuals with disabilities or limitations. Thanks to these new recruits, Israel now has a greater pool of kitchen staff, a greater pool of those who assemble and package military equipment for those in the field, and a greater pool of those who take damaged equipment and prepare it for repair.
The Israel Defense Force, or I.D.F. as it’s more commonly known, provides these new recruits with a sense of independence. For some, being in the army is their first experience being away from home, and in some cases, overprotective parents. The I.D.F. provides these new recruits with a sense of accomplishment. To be part of one of the world’s top ranking armies is no small thing, and these new recruits know it. These new recruits also realize that they have been able to achieve well beyond what they once thought possible. Most important of all, the I.D.F. provides these new recruits with a sense of dignity. One of the new recruits so aptly summed up the experience by stating: I’m very glad to be here. I’m walking around with my head held high.
As unique a contribution Israel is making to these new recruits, Israel is also contributing to its own I.D.F. in a most incomparable way. While the I.D.F. has always been known for its bravado, and has always been singled out for its soul, the presence of these new recruits has further enriched the very fiber of the rest of its soldiers. Being in close contact with these new recruits has not only opened the eyes of many a soldier, but it has opened the hearts of many a soldier as well. When one of the soldiers remarked: They are an inseparable part of us. They work with us, eat with us, and contribute just like we do, he was being much too modest. The fact of the matter is, that the soldiers not only get to know these new recruits, but they learn to accept their differences and appreciate them. The soldiers look forward to seeing the new recruits each day. The soldiers love them.
Ask any number of American Jews why they are so very proud of the I.D.F. and they’ll provide you with any number of reasons. Thanks to project Fulfilling a Dream, one more excellent reason exists.