Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Israel – CCLVIII. My Military Career (1 of 5)

My military career can be measured in days!

Therefore, referring to it as a career is no doubt an exaggeration.  Nevertheless, because so many things happened in such a short time span, I view it as a very short career that taught me many lessons, not the least of which was to get a very general idea of military life.

In 1942, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. found itself dragged into WWII.  The nation was unprepared for this war, and the young recruits were very concerned.  A song penned by Irving Berlin translates the mood of the time; some of the lyrics follow:

“This is the army Mister Jones

No private rooms or telephones

You had your breakfast in bed before

But you won`t have it there anymore.”

And on it goes to describe the privations these green soldiers should expect.

This song reached Egypt and was popular for many years.  I hummed it at times, but only knew the first 4 lines of the lyrics.  I then forgot about it – until I became a young recruit myself.  I hummed it to myself, but when my colleagues heard it, they asked me to sing it to them; eventually it reached the sergeant who liked it; it stressed what he was telling us; he demanded the whole lyrics, alas, I only knew a few lines.

As promised in the song, life in the army proved unlike anything I’ve ever known, or imagined, before.

The first day was without a doubt the longest day of my life.  I was photographed, measured for my uniform, subjected to a medical examination and tests (over and above the medical examination preceding my joining the service), and attended a session where instructions were given by the young sergeant who was responsible for our group.  This gathering removed any illusions we may have had about what our life would be from now on.  A fate worse than death was promised to us if we did not conform to the rigid military discipline.  The instructions were actually barked to us, and they were filled by many swear words I didn’t know existed.

At first view, everything appeared to be conducted in a chaotic manner.  In actual fact, there must have been a great deal of efficiency since all the above mentioned activities were carried out in half a day.

During the other half of the day, we tried our uniforms and were issued different supplies such as a knapsack, a small shovel, and a rifle.  We signed endless forms and receipts.  Eventually, we were taken to our barracks where we stowed the meagre belongings we were allowed to have under our beds.

The barracks was a huge hall with two rows of beds facing each other.  You weren’t left with any feelings of privacy, nor as a new recruit did you expect it.

I was exhausted at this point, and started getting ready for bed.  The other recruits advised me that the day was not over.

Indeed, the sergeant reappeared and we were asked to stand in a line facing him.  New instructions were given, and this time they related to the expected standards of cleanliness and orderliness of our quarters and the adjacent washrooms, showers, and changing rooms.  Again emphasis was placed on this new set of orders through the use of swear words and threats.

Finally, the sergeant posted the military training we were supposed to undergo in the coming days.  He then left us to read and digest the different activities that in time would make soldiers out of us.

They included marches, both long and short, sessions to instruct us on how to use and maintain our rifles, target practices, mock battles with blank ammunition, and different chores such as kitchen chores.

New conscripts are sure to find the army totally bewildering.  Maintaining secrecy is a must, therefore only the absolute minimums of required specifics are given.  For example, a march did not specify that we were to go from point A to point B, only how many kilometers, and what equipment we required.

It is a strange feeling to have to go somewhere, yet not to know where you are going and for what purpose.

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