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This Is The Story Of A Company...

ido1 Two soldiers from the unit presenting Ido with an Award of Appreciation, at his home

..That Adopted A Child 

One day, after a training session, an IDF reserve unit was playing soccer in a very small moshav that had been evacuated, near the border. When the ball rolled off the field, a boy kicked it back in. The fact that there even was a boy there was surprising, because there are no children left in the moshav. But the boy's mother and father weren't evacuated, and neither were a few other adults who had to stay to guard it or to work. And the boy was left without friends, without a classroom, a school or after-school activities, and had no brothers or sisters – all he had was his mother and father.

Since October 7, 2023, he hadn't wanted to leave his room, and certainly not to play outside. But when the soldiers asked if he was coming to play with them, everything changed.

The next day, the boy forced his mother to wake him early, for the soldiers' morning formation, before they left for their activities – and, because he was just standing there, they gave him a number. When everyone shouted out their numbers, suddenly they heard a little chirping voice shout "Twelve!", with utter seriousness and perfect timing. And because he already had a number, they gave him a job – to be responsible for the medical bag and make sure it didn't get left behind, OK? The soldiers winked to each other and smiled.

But because the boy didn't move an inch away from the bag (a responsibility is a responsibility), the paramedic showed him what was inside, and how this instrument works, and why that one's important. And the boy stayed on for the coordination meeting with the K-9 squad. After everyone had asked their military questions, the boy raised his hand, and they said "Yes, boy? Do you have a question?" – and the boy said he did. And they asked, "What's your question?" He said, "May I pet the dog?" All the soldiers laughed, and I'm pretty sure the dogs did, too.

Since then, every morning, the boy has been doing morning PT with the company, and every evening, he's been coming for dinner. The adults on the moshav have been pampering the soldiers with huge piles of food, despite their protests that they have everything they need. And before anyone even noticed, they wove themselves into each other's lives – the soldiers and the civilians, the locals and the strangers. They ate together and they sang together and they prayed together, and, together they defended what was left.

Several days ago, in a festive ceremony the company gave the boy the unit's insignia. My son sent me this picture. And the only thing I could see was that the boy, whose name is Ido, (1) is impossibly sweet, and (2) looks exactly like my son when he was his age. Including the combination of wonder and determination that you can see on his face, the long bony arms and legs, and the long hair – which I used to cut crooked, because he couldn't sit still on the chair for more than two minutes.

After the next Friday night dinner of this strange new community that had arisen in the deserted moshav, Ido's mother put him to bed and told him that, one day, the war would be over and the soldiers would go home, and that he had to prepare himself for that.

And Ido said, "What do you think? I know that myself." But just before he fell asleep, he said that, even though he knew they wouldn't, he would really love them to stay there forever.

I know this sounds like the story of a company that adopted a child – and that's what I thought, too, at first. But it isn't. It's the story of a child who adopted a company. And every day, he reminds the fathers and the big brothers and big sisters in the unit who they are, who they're fighting for, and who they miss. I'm pretty sure that, in ordinary times, I would have thought, "What does a boy have to do with the Army? It shouldn't be like that." But these aren't ordinary times, and salvation comes from the most unexpected people – just so you know.

Thanks to Y., Ido's mother, who allowed me to write about her amazing son.

A football game during a lull in the war
The platoon at the ceremony of presenting the unit’s symbol to Ido

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Thursday, 29 February 2024

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