Good and Bad Children – Part II

I wrote a few weeks ago that on Memorial Day I blessed Emma, wishing her never to have to wear a uniform. I also wrote, that deep down I knew she probably will, one day.

In fact, it might happen even earlier than I thought. A few days after Memorial Day, I came across this clip on Youtube. It’s a play, acted out to the lyrics of one of Israel’s most famous war songs. It’s called “A Ballad for the Medic”, sung by Yehoram Gaon, and tells of a wounded soldier who is treated under fire by a medic who refuses to leave him to die.

Every child growing up in Israel knows this song. We all know the words. In fact, most of us have probably shed a tear by the time we finished singing it.

And many children act out this song, in some way or another, sometimes in uniform, sometimes not, on Memorial Day.

I’ve translated the words:

They moved forward slowly, everything was calm
Across was the river and the rustling reeds,
Suddenly thunder and lightning, one yelled: “Wounded!”
I’m coming! – the medic answered him
We’ve walked over a mine! – The wounded yelled
I’m right here beside you – the medic answered him

A hailstorm of fire fell, a heavy and disrupted hail of fire
Across the river and the rustling reeds
Leave me here – the wounded asked
Nonsense – the medic answered him
Save yourself – the wounded then asked
I’m staying with you – the medic answered

They were left alone, in the open field
They were left alone, exposed to the fire
We’re lost – the wounded then mumbled
Hold me tight – the medic answered him
You’re wounded as well – the wounded then mumbled
Don’t worry, it’s nothing – the medic answered

The fire was very heavy! Very hard to move
We mustn’t give up, we mustn’t give up
I’ll always remember you – the wounded then swore
Just don’t fall – the medic then mumbled
I’m yours until the day you die – the wounded then swore
Today is the day I will die – the medic answered him

Suddenly a cloud of dust, suddenly the wind picked up
A shadow on the ground, it’s coming, it’s loud
We’re saved! They’re coming – the wounded then sobbed
But he heard nothing from the medic
My brother, my brother! – the wounded then sobbed
Across the river and the rustling reeds,
My brother, my brother….

Here’s the clip:


Some people might get the chills from this clip. It really brings home how militaristic a society we live in, and how we “educate” our children. Unfortunately, it also reminded me of the clips of Palestinian children in uniform. Sure, the “Ballad for a Medic” is a far cry from those 5-year-olds with fake bomb belts strapped around their bellies. But you have to admit, there are some similarities…

Still, I always get a lump in my throat from that song. But this time it was a different one. This time it wasn’t due to the tear-jerking qualities of the lyrics. No, this time it was because I saw Emma in the future, in uniform, playing out that song.

And I just wanted to cry.


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