Well, eight months of the army has come and gone, seven of those in Golani Brigade infantry training. Time - what an inexplicable factor of mortality! Either way, events are going to transpire this week that I thought would never come, and honestly, I even believed at times that I wouldn't have the guts or ability to live through them. Silly, silly doubts.
On Monday, this very Monday, we have our masa kumta. If you are just stepping into this blog right now, I can't explain it to you the way you deserve, but let's just say that a masa (journey) is a massive hike at a very fast pace with full gear, and stretchers. The last one we did was about 40 kilometers, and the last 10k was with open, loaded stretchers, and the last five of that was climbing one of Israel's taller mountains. The word is the same used for the Israelites 40-year journey in the desert after the Exodus from Egypt. And we remember how bad that was.
After I finish this feat, we have a ceremony on Wednesday to receive the Golani beret. For the past eight months I've had the army's basic green beret, a true sign of 'youth' in the army. The brown Golani beret, so colored because this brigade was originally composed of kibbutznik farmers, is a holy item in Israeli society. It symbolizes the greatest sacrifice for the country. If anything historical is still cherished in this changing, modern country, it is the Golanchik's color. At least this is the way we think of it in the army, and in my first-hand experience, I regularly receive encouragement and even thanks from civilians when they see the Golan tree on my shoulder tag.
For eight long months me and my fellow soldiers have been itching, just plain yearning for this moment. We've been trained, we're fully combat rated, we're ready for whatever the army needs us for, we've completed every single test thrown at us, and now it's time we receive our prize. We've earned it.
Last week was hell on earth, War Week, but we won't even discuss that. What passed passed, and I'm stronger for it.
But this next week, despite the physical strain to come... it will be something good to dwell on. Wish me luck, though I hope I only need determination. Funny how all things come in their due time, even when it seems they never will, no?