Thursday, January 29, 2009
A sword and an olive branch. In one hand strength, in the other peace. The Israeli Army offers both to our enemies - some have accepted the second (Jordan, Egypt), with great results, and others have accepted the first, to their detriment (Lebanon, Syria, Hamas). The beret badge of every Israeli infantryman reminds him of his mission: to fight if necessary, to lay down arms when possible.
Since I got into Golani I've wanted to make a post describing the journey of a soldier in training. You see, you don't just get all the pretty stuff on your uniform right away. Every single thing you receive, from the strap for your gun to the beret of your brigade, the pin on the beret, the red base for the pin on your beret, the shoulder badge of your brigade, the warrior pin for your chest, special courses pins (sniper, medic, parachutist), and so on, are earned through the course of your training generally from the masaot, or very long hikes. Not for a year is your uniform complete. Not for a year can you walk in public without being known as a "tzair," or greenhorn.
So, what have I received so far, being about two months into basic training? Well, I got the strap for the gun pretty quickly. I received the beret insignia (a pin that goes on your beret) for infantry soldiers. I finally got the shoulder patch earlier this month at the same time as the beret insignia. For a month and a half I was dying for the Golani tree on my shoulder, just to know that I was finally an official Golanchik. Do you know how goofy you feel walking in public with nothing on your uniform, no pins or special beret or anything, no badge for anyone to know where you are, but yet having a next-generation assault rifle slung around your back?
But I'm slowly making my way. Slowly.
Another thing I meant to do but forgot in my post-Shabbat haste was to take a picture of the above pin before I fixed it up. I wanted to make another post like the one I did about my beret, which people really seemed to enjoy. Unfortunately, I was halfway through the process when I realized my mistake.
So, quite anticlimactically, I can just tell you the process. First of all, the pin is given to you without any shine to it. It's jet black, and you can barely make out the design without it being close up. So, you take a Brillo pad ("scotch," in Hebrew, for some reason) and some water and just start scrubbing. You only want the raised layer to become golden, with the black base remaining. Some guys scrub this thing so much that it blinds with the slightest glint of light.
Like my beret, I could scrub some more until all the raised bits are perfectly coppered, until I have the perfect compliment to my dress uniform, but eh... I'd rather get another 11 hour night of sleep before going back to base tomorrow morning.
I'll post a picture of the Golan tree sometime too.