They come with their smiles, packed with equipment, wires, earphones, guns.
But they don’t look like the soldiers I know, like the soldier I raised.
They look like my coworkers, my neighbors, my friends.
They are miluimnikim (reserve soldiers) – they’ve left their jobs for the month, their warm beds, their time with their children.
To protect mine.
Rather than eating home cooked meals, they’re eating packaged food.
Rather than helping with their children’s homework, they’re standing on the corner making sure someone else’s children get to school.
Rather than their computers and their jobs, their coworkers and their monthly reports, they’re interacting with other miluimnikim from around the country, sleeping on cots and braving the elements.
And yet, and yet, they pop into the Pina Chama with broad smiles and twinkling eyes; with stories to tell and questions to ask about where we live, what we like and who we are.
Their appreciation – their thank yous- fill the room.
But it is them that I want to thank.
For dropping everything to be here in Gush Etzion with me.
For staying up late and waking up early to guard my children.
For leaving their own comfort and their own families to keep mine together.
Tomorrow, I will see my own soldier, my own personal hero, and I can’t wait.
But today, today these are my heroes.
And I thank them from the bottom of my heart for their service.
To me. And our country.