We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Tuesday, August 29. 2006
David Grossman's Ode to Uri
Nathan sent us this piece from Israel:
A Father's Ode to His Lost Son
Sunday, August 27, 2006; B01
When you went to Lebanon, Mom said that the thing that most scared her
was your volunteer complex. We were very frightened that if someone
had to run to save a wounded man, you'd charge straight into enemy
gunfire, and that you'd be the first to volunteer to bring more
ammunition. That's the way you were your whole life, at home and in
school, and in the army. You willingly gave up your home leave when
some other soldier needed it more than you did. You'd do the same in
Lebanon, in the war.
You were my son and my friend. You were the same for your mother. Our
souls are intertwined with yours. You were at one with yourself, a
person it was good to be with. I'm not even able to say out loud how
much you were someone to run with. Every time you came home on leave
you'd say, "Dad, let's talk," and we'd go out together, usually to a
restaurant, and talk. You told me so much, Uri, and it was gratifying
to be your confidant. A person like you had chosen me. I remember that
once you pondered whether to punish a soldier of yours who had
committed a breach of discipline. How you agonized over the decision,
knowing that a punishment would anger your men and enrage the other
commanders, who were more lenient than you were regarding certain
violations. And, in fact, you paid a heavy social price when you
decided to impose the punishment. But that incident later became one
of your battalion's foundation stories, and established a standard of
behavior and of adherence to the rules. On your last visit home you
related, with your bashful pride, how the battalion commander, in his
talk to the unit's new officers and sergeants, referred to your
resolute decision as exemplary leadership.
You illuminated our lives, Uri. Your mother and I raised you in love.
It was so easy to love you with all our hearts, and I know you felt
it. Your short life was a good one. I hope that I was a father worthy
of such a boy. I know that to be Michal's son is to grow up surrounded
by infinite generosity and kindness and love. You received all these,
in great abundance, and you knew how to appreciate them, and to be
grateful for them, because you didn't take anything you received for
I won't say now anything about the war you were killed in. We, our
family, have already lost in this war. The state of Israel will now
take stock of itself. We, the family, will withdraw into our pain,
surrounded by our good friends, enveloped in the powerful love that we
feel today from so many people, most of whom we do not know. I thank
them for their support, which is unbounded.
May we be able to give this love and solidarity to each other at other
times as well. That is perhaps our unique national resource. It is our
greatest human national treasure. May we know how to be a bit more
gentle with each other, and may we succeed in saving ourselves from
the violence and hostility that has penetrated so deeply into all
aspects of our lives. May we know how to get our bearings and save
ourselves now, at the very last minute, because very hard times await
Uri was a very Israeli boy. Even his name is the ultimate Israeli,
Hebrew name. He was the quintessence of the Israeli I would like to
see. The kind that has almost been forgotten. The kind that people
today consider a curiosity. At times, I would look at him and think
that he was something of an anachronism. He and Yonatan, and Ruti,
too. Children of the 1950s. Uri with his absolute integrity, taking
full responsibility for everything happening around him. You could
always trust him with everything. Uri with his profound sensitivity to
all suffering, to every injustice. With his compassion. Whenever that
word came to mind, I thought of Uri.
He was a man of values. In recent years, that word has faded. It has
even been ridiculed. Because in our disjointed, cruel, cynical world,
it's not cool to have values. Or to be a humanist. Or to be really
sensitive to the distress of others, even if the other is your enemy
on the battlefield.
But I learned from Uri that it's possible and necessary. That we need
to defend ourselves, but in two senses: to defend our bodies, and not
to surrender our souls. Not to surrender to the temptations of force
and simplistic thinking, to the corruption of cynicism. Not to
surrender to boorishness and contempt for others, which are the really
great curses of the person who lives his entire life in a disaster
area like ours.
Uri simply had the courage to be himself, always, in all situations.
To find his precise voice in everything he said and did. That is what
protected him from pollution, corruption and the constriction of his
Uri was also funny. Amazingly funny and witty. You can't talk about
Uri without recalling some of his best lines. For example, when he was
13, I once said to him, "Imagine that you and your children will be
able to fly into outer space just like we fly to Europe today." And he
smiled: "What's the big deal about outer space? You can get everything
on Earth these days."
Or one other time, when we were in the car, and Michal and I were
discussing a new book that everyone was talking about. I mentioned the
names of some novelists and critics, and 9-year-old Uri piped up from
the back seat: "Hey, elitists, may I draw your attention to the fact
that there's a little regular guy here who doesn't understand anything
And once, when I was invited to Japan and wasn't sure whether to go,
Uri said: "How can you turn it down? Do you know what it's like to be
in the only country in the world where there are no Japanese
On Saturday night, at 11 o'clock, our doorbell rang. Through the
intercom they said, "From the town major's office." And I went to
open, and I thought to myself: That's it, our life is over.
But five hours later, when Michal and I went into Ruti's room and woke
her up to tell her the horrible news, Ruti, after her initial weeping,
said: "But we'll live, right?" We will live and go on trips like
before, and I want to go on singing in the choir, and we'll continue
to laugh like always, and I want to learn to play guitar, and we
hugged her, and we said that we would live. And Ruti also said, "What
a wonderful threesome we were, Yonatan, Uri and me."
You really were wonderful, and so were all the different twosomes
within the threesome. Yonatan, you and Uri were not just brothers, you
were friends in heart and soul, with your own world and your own
private language and your own sense of humor. Ruti, Uri loved you with
all his soul, and treated you with such tenderness. I remember how,
during his last phone call, when he was so happy that the United
Nations was about to declare a cease-fire, he insisted on talking to
you. How you cried afterward, as if you already knew.
Our lives are not over. But we have suffered a very severe blow. We'll
take the strength to withstand it from ourselves, from our
togetherness, Michal's, mine and our children's. And from Grandpa and
the two grandmothers, who loved him with all their hearts -- Neshuma ,
they called him in Yiddish, because he was all soul. And from his
uncles and aunts and cousins and all his many friends from school, and
his soldier friends, who are with us in concern and in companionship.
And we will also take our strength from Uri. He had enough power to
last us many years. He radiated life, vitality, warmth and love so
strongly, and his light will continue to shine on us, even if the star
that produced it has gone out.
Our love, it was our great privilege to live with you. Thank you for
every moment that you were ours.
Posted by Bird Dog in Our Essays at 18:21 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
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Awesome. Heartbreaking. Such a waste. Not the bravery or the soldier boy comforting an enemy kid--that heartens and inspires anyone with a heart to feel it--but the loss of a brother who might have helped bring peace to a blood-logged land.
As narrow-minded, knuckle-dragging traditionalists, we Maggie's Farmers honor fathers: fathers that stick around and do their best to do what grown men need to do for their families and for their communities. Few of us can reach the Atticus Finch idea
Tracked: Jun 17, 07:13