As we once again remember the more than 22 thousand soldiers and civilians who have been killed in wars and acts of terror, we living in Israel cannot help but wonder how women such as Miki Goldwasser, the mother of Ehud (Udi) Goldwasser, can go from being in a state of sad remembering to one of joy when Yom HaZicharon (Soldiers Remembrance Day) changes in just 24 hours to the festivities of Yom HaAtzmaut.
Ehud Goldwasser, together with another soldier, Eldad Regev, were kidnapped on July 12, 2006 by the Hezbollah along the border with Lebanon. For two agonizing years, their exact fate had been unknown (at least to their loved ones) until their bodies were finally returned to Israel in two black boxes on July 16, 2008, virtually 2 years after their Humvee jeep had been attacked by enemy fire. Along with Udi's wife Carnit, his mother Miki had waged a relentless campaign to have him returned to his family, only to have him come home as another fallen soldier.
Miki was recently interviewed by the Jerusalem Post, during which time she talked about her son and what kind of person he had been during his short life of only 31 years. She recalled how he had become so much in love with life, and with his country and his wife, with whom he had planned to raise a family following their graduation from university (they were both graduate students at the Technion when the Lebanon II war broke out). She spoke about Udi's childhood and how, from a very early age, he had decided that he could live nowhere else but in Israel.
Udi's love of life was shown many times during his life, both at home, in school, in the army, and especially with Carnit, the love of his life, and childhood sweetheart. Although Udi had lived abroad with his parents from time to time (his father Shlomo was a merchant marine ship captain) Udi knew that he could live his life only in the country he loved. Miki recalled how her son had once told her that even though it was comfortable living in places like South Africa, he could only fulfill himself by living in Israel. He and Carnit were together for more than nine years before they finally married, and were only together as husband and wife for 10 months before that fateful day in July, 2006.
Both Miki and Shlomo have been active in the ongoing campaign to free captive soldier Gilad Schalit, and they have been regular visitors to the Schalit home in Moshav Mitzpeh Hilla in the Western Galilee. They understand what Noam and Aviva Schalit, Gilad's parents, are going through. And she is even more determined to perpetuate Udi's memory by helping other families whose sons have also fallen for the country they loved.
This is just one example of the brave young men and women who dedicate themselves to their country; and to their parents – ones like Miki and Shlomo Goldwasser.