Reflexive warrior

Although he was not killed in action, Cpl. David Gordon is, in fact, the 65th IDF fatality of the current conflict.

David Gordon z''l (photo credit: REUTERS)
David Gordon z''l
(photo credit: REUTERS)
In his last post on Facebook, on July 25, Cpl. David Gordon wrote: “Unbelievably overwhelmed, not from this mission but from the support and messages of encouragement from family, friends and strangers.
I am OK and I’ve never felt more loved. Thank you all! Taking a short break and then I’m off again.”
Gordon, a 21-year-old lone soldier from Detroit, served in the Givati Brigade and fought in Gaza last month during Operation Protective Edge.
He was reported missing from the Tzrifin base near Rishon Lezion on Sunday, and his body was found on Tuesday not far from the base. With his rifle at his side, he was wearing his uniform and purple beret of which he had been so proud.
The IDF has opened an investigation into the circumstances of his tragic death, and his family has flown in from the US to bury him with full military honors at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl Military Cemetery on Thursday.
Gordon was a gifted writer, and maintained a blog called Sparks of David where he wrote extensively in English about his experiences in Israel and in the IDF.
In his writing and on Facebook, he comes across as an intelligent, upbeat young man who loved Israel and his military service.
On June 26, he proudly posted a Reuters photo-shoot series of himself in camouflage uniform aiming his rifle, with a look of satisfaction on his face.
After concluding his basic training in the 424th Shaked Infantry Battalion in May, he penned the following beautiful blog post on June 4 during a break from the army – “for a weekend of rest, recovery and recuperation” – titled “On Abstinence and Effort”: If the military has taught me anything it’s to appreciate the small things as well as things I had previously taken for granted. With all luxuries limited as of late, I have a new appreciation for everyday gifts like hot showers, tasty food, human connection, entertainment and even freedom.
Surprisingly, the army’s limitation of all these things has transformed me not only into a reflexive warrior but, in many ways, a happier person. When I have that free time I’m more conscious of it. Every tune is magic. Every kind pair of eyes is adored. Every uninterrupted night’s sleep with my boots off is a miracle and, of course, time in general is better utilized.
Boredom is not a fun state of mind. But even with increased stimuli and options we can still feel empty. I know I can. The idea is to pace yourself. Have something to look forward to. Limit yourself and let desire develop. Savor the flavor and enjoy the chase. Fight for lasting pleasures and take your time enjoying them.
After much time (unwillingly) abstaining from hot baths, groovy music and anything remotely close to Scotch I was finally able to properly enjoy myself. What followed resulted not only in renewed excitements but the restoration of the even greater pleasure of creativity.
In a more somber mood – on June 25 – Gordon faced the issues of life and death head-on: I do not fear death. Just as I had no choice in being born I will have no choice but to die. The mystery is how and when our lives will terminate and what kind of life we will live before we are forced to embrace death’s final calling.
Like our favorite song, the tune may sound beautiful but the music will eventually end. The idea is to create a novel sound and always play your very best. Occasionally, yield in your tracks, listen closely, and enjoy the pure melody while it lasts.
Like many other soldiers serving in Gaza, Gordon may have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.
This phenomenon should serve as a wake-up call to the IDF and to all families and friends of soldiers who fought in Operation Protective Edge. The experiences of troops in combat against Hamas must have been traumatizing, to say the least. They should be given proper psychological counseling and encouraged to confront their own horrors of war.
Although he was not killed in action, Cpl. David Gordon is, in fact, the 65th IDF fatality of the current conflict.
Our hearts go out to his parents, family, friends and comrades. May his memory be for a blessing.