August 23, 2006

Free Our Soldiers

Gilad Shalit

Eldad Regev.

Ehud Goldwasser.

Almost everyday, I put on a blue bracelet with the names of the men above etched on it. The bracelet was given to me a month or so ago by a dear Cotillion sister, Linda. Whenever I look down at the bracelet, it reminds me of these men and I say a quick prayer for them. Also almost everyday that I wear the bracelet, someone notices and asks me about the names on it. "Who are they?"

Who are these men?

They are the Israeli soldiers who were captured by Hezbollah and Hamas. Gilad Shalit was captured by Hamas on June 25 of this year when Palestinian militants dug a tunnel from Gaza into Israel and attacked an Israeli army base. Eldad Regev, along with Ehud Goldwasser were captured by Hezbollah on July 12.

Those are the bare facts of why they are named on my bracelet but still it doesn't answer much about the "who they are."

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Gilad was born August 28,1986. 1986. He is a son of two very terrified parents. He is the brother of Yoel and Hamas who wonder each day if they will ever see their brother alive again. His favorite subject in school was math. He is described by neighbors as "quiet and cheerful". His friends say he is funny and good at soccer. Just your average guy, barely beyond his childhood, and just crossing into the threshold of adulthood. You might even know a Gilad in your neighborhood. In your school. In your church. Or you might even know a Gilad in your family.

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Eldad Regev is a 26 year old University student and reservist who was called to active duty only a month before he was captured is described by his family as "as laid-back but patriotic, with a wide circle of friends." His brothers have set up "camp" at Eldad's home waiting for any news of their brother. As the reporter who interviewed his family describes:

Everywhere in the cluttered, third-floor apartment he has shared with his father in this suburb of Haifa, there are reminders of Eldad Regev. A dog-eared travel guide from a recent trip to Thailand. An army sticker on the wall above his still-unmade bed: "Reserves, the best friends you have." And an album of childhood photos the family compiled in recent days, while they wondered if they'd ever see him again.

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Ehud Goldwasser is 31 and married to Karnit. He works at the Israeli Institute of technology (info via Wikipedia). He plays the guitar and his family wants desperately for him to return home to them. They wait for his return. Anxious for any news, but dreading it as well.

And why do I care about these men so much? As one person who saw my bracelet said, "I care more about our soldiers. Not some other country's. Why do you care about them?"

Because. Notwithstanding my resolve to stand with Israel or my realization that these events are biblical and must come to past, the real reason I stand with these three men is that no matter the victim. The enemy is still the same. Terrorists. Evil who seeks to kill and destroy by any means. Yes, these three men were soldiers of an army. But these terrorists would have just as easily without just as much remorse kidnapped their sisters. Or their children. Or the journalists who report the story on the front lines (this, they have already done.) Or kidnap an entire plane of innocent people to use the plane for a weapon to destroy a building full of innocent people (oh, this they have already done, too).

But they're not the same organization, they're not the same.

Maybe not the same name. But the same fight. And the same evil. And the same terrorism. So I wear my little blue bracelet and whenever I look down, I pray. It's not enough. But it's what I can do.

And I know that tomorrow, it could be us. It could be us, again. And it could be another family. As Gadi Goldwasser, the brother of Ehud states in this article in the Jerusalem Post states:

From the start of the military operation in Lebanon, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that one of its objectives was the return of the kidnapped soldiers. Gadi said he believed the kidnapping was simply the trigger and not the cause for the war.

"For six years they [Hizbullah] sat on the border preparing for war, and sadly my brother was caught in the middle. It could have been anyone," Gadi said, adding, "sadly, it was my brother."

Currently there stands a cease fire between Hezbollah and Israel. I can only imagine the eerie quiet over the land that was once riddled with bombs and gunshots. The relief of the residents to be able to sleep in peace once again, to put this all behind them and just forget. But it can't be forgotten. These three men can not be forgotten until they are free.

Gilad Shalit

Eldad Regev.

Ehud Goldwasser.

(Cross posted from Goddivas.)

Posted by Jody at August 23, 2006 12:49 PM

How can I get one of these bracelets. I arrived in Israel on July 12th of this year and spent two weeks in Israel during this war.I feel very connected to these families and want to do all I can to support them.

Posted by: Carin at August 23, 2006 02:20 PM

I am also interested in getting two bracelets. My daughter had tickets bought for Israel when the war broke out, and then her trip was cancelled. She was so very disappointed. She and I would check our computers first thing in the mornings checking on Israel, what was happening, etc. Let me know if the bracelets are available.

Posted by: Susan K. at August 23, 2006 03:01 PM