The words below are not mine, they are a translation of a post Ziv Shilon wrote on his Facebook page.
Reading it brought tears to my eyes. Ziv is inspiring, a true leader.
When things seem terrible and frighteningly dangerous in this little country of ours I remember that people like him exist and it gives me renewed hope.
This is Israel. Here Ziv is “just” another guy. Anywhere else he would be considered the stuff that legends are made from…
(To see more about Ziv go to my article from 2012: https://forestrain.wordpress.com/2012/11/12/the-stuff-that-legends-are-made-from/ )
Please read Ziv’s words below:
Nearly two years have passed since I was severely wounded on the border of the Gaza Strip near Kibbutz Kisufim.
To this day, I am undergoing rehabilitation for my right hand which was almost completely cut off, I have had quite a few surgeries and there will be more in the future!
For almost two years I’ve lived with my hand like that and my other, a hand of iron. I learned to eat again, get dressed, hold things in a different way, to drive and dozens of other little things that people tend to take for granted.
Aside from all the physical difficulties there is also the need to deal with mental difficulties. It’s not simple to deal with everything, the visual aspects and how it affects my masculinity!
Along with difficult surgeries every six months that throw me with a boom back to the Sisyphean experience of the first stages of my rehabilitation, there are the looks, the questions children ask about my “strange” hand, the need for help so I can eat falafel in a pita… these are equally difficult challenges for me. As a person with an inflated ego I confess, until recently I walked proudly with my head held high and a Tabor on my thigh, as a person that dedicated his life to my dear warriors for 7 years, as a person who did not know how to ask for help, I became one who occasionally needs a hand – literally!
With time and with the help of family, friends and in all honesty, all the people of this dear nation, who for two years have made me feel special (in a good way!), every kind word, clapping at the end of each lecture I give, every person who came from the heart to help with whatever I wanted makes me realize each day anew – blessed is God who has made me a Jew, an Israeli!
There is no other place on earth that would have granted me a particle of the enormous empathy and affection I receive from you, all of you, and that is what compels me to continue moving forward, step by step towards the goal!
I will share with you, Operation Protective Edge was a breaking point for me. It was right after my mother passed away after a fierce and years long battle with cancer, during the Shivah [7 day ritual morning period] that the fighting began in Gaza.
My heart was in Gaza, with the warriors, my body strong and ready for the task with just my unhealed hands keeping me from being there physically. I felt a deep longing, a yearning to return to command, lead and protect this country. The country came together, united for the fighters in the field and I, for the first time in my life, felt helpless. When our boys came home the storm in my soul quieted but at the same time left me with the need to project strength, power as Ziv, the private person and also as an IDF warrior, in order to convey a message to the heroes who were wounded in this Operation and are now experiencing the stage that I think it the most complex – when the spotlight shining on them is turned off and they need to begin dealing with the aloneness, the new, the future, which is often frightening.
I want to show that even with serious injuries there is a light at the end of the tunnel. To prove to our enemies, yet again, that IDF soldiers did not surrender. Ever. For every Jew who has lost hope, anywhere in the world. To show my mother, Margalit, that I progressed another step towards perfect fulfillment and above all to prove to myself that one day I will be able to return to command fighters!
This month I close three circles – marriage to the love of my life that has gone through so much with me, as a Company Commander, release of IDF soldiers after three great years and two years since my injury. Now I am beginning a new, long journey, to one of the most challenging competitions that exists in order to prove that anything is possible.
When I need your back, I know you will be there, as always!
Iron Man here I come …