An Israeli story
In the summer of 1987, Shmulik was killed.
SOLDIERS REST near Kibbutz Kissufim Photo: REUTERS
In the summer of 1987, Shmulik was killed. His jeep turned over at the Nakrot
Stream, a location that is full of splendor. There were six of us sitting in the
back of the command car, and between us his coffin was placed, wrapped up in a
flag. We drove to Ramle, Shmulik was the third in a sequence of
outstanding soldiers from Ramle in our unit who all became excellent officers –
Franco, then his brother Nicki, and then Shmulik. Nicki and Shmulik’s friendship
goes a long way back to the boy scouts in Ramle.
Guy, a levelheaded and
restrained officer, who was one of six soldiers carrying the coffin, managed to
control himself the whole way, but when we arrived with the coffin, it was
Nicki, waiting with red eyes with the others, that brought him to
Shmulik had a face full of freckles and a great deal of
confidence. He was tough and finished the officers’ course at the Ba’ad 1
training camp with honors. He was aware of his talent and the appreciation he
received, and also of the fact that a sea of possibilities lay before him, he
could achieve whatever he wanted.
He was only 21 when it all
In the same unit, a year later, Uri was killed on a vast range of
mountains in Lebanon, when he was hit by the shrapnel and shock wave of an RPG,
shot by a group of terrorists that the force encountered.
Uri was also an
outstanding apprentice in the officers’ course at Ba’ad 1 and may be compared,
as everyone who knew him can confirm, to “fulminating mercury.”
always on the move, always busy and working, organizing activities, quickly
tracking a group that lost its way at a crucial moment and saving a military
exercise when it seems to be a lost case.
“I’ve got a lighter in my
butt,” Uri once said, explaining to me, in his illustrative manner, the secret
of his endurance during long runs.
I probably would not have met the Levy
family from Ramle and the Maoz family from Yesud Hama’ala if their sons had not
fallen in battle, and I would rather have never met them. But fate had something
else in store. As things turned out, these families are very dear to me and have
been a significant part of my life for many years. I love them and deeply admire
the noble silence with which they carry their pain.
“I taught you to plow
the land, not to be buried in it,” said Kobi Maoz, a farmer from Yesud Hama’ala,
at the grave of his 22- year-old son.
Last year, Kobi passed away,
leaving a second cloud of pain, which was also final.
fill with tears when Uri’s mother, Aviva, describes the children of Uri’s sister
and brother and the grandchildren he will never give her, and in the background
Nurit Galron sings “It’s Sad to Die in the Middle of Tamuz.”
Haim, Shmulik’s parents, warmly embrace the regular audience that attends the
memorials and the young paratroopers who make it every year without exception,
serving them food and drinks as though they were looking after chicks. The years
passed and we have married and had children. The young nephews and nieces of the
deceased run around cheerfully, unknowingly emphasizing the difference between
what is and what is not, between the joy of life and the emptiness of
The parents grow old, while those who have departed are absentees
who appear at memorials and meetings, and remain forever young.
writer is the son of former prime minister Ariel Sharon and the author of
Sharon: The Life of a Leader.