Honoring our wounded warriors: a message of inspiration from Ziv Shilon

The following is an inspiring post written, in Hebrew, by Ziv Shilon on his Facebook wall that I have taken the liberty to translate.

I have heard so often people around the world say “there are no role models these days,” “there is no one to look up to, to emulate.” These people are sadly mistaken. There are role models and even heroes. They are alive and real, not the stuff of storybooks or movies. They are walking the streets of Israel.

Captain Ziv Shilon


A message from Ziv Shilon:

“This year, December 9th is dedicated as a national day of appreciation for Israel’s wounded warriors and victims of terrorism.

Over the past 67 years, thousands of soldiers, police, civilians and members of various security forces striving to provide us all secure lives, have been wounded. Some of them are suffering, reliving the scenes of Israel’s wars on a daily basis.

For me they are role models: the brave boys and girls from Operation Defensive Edge, the fathers and mothers from the first Lebanon War, grandparents from the Yom Kippur War, the Six Day War and the War of Independence. They are role models because they proudly sacrificed for our existence but also for the daily battle they have waged since the war in which they were injured!

Yes, I too am part of that group (if you can call it that). Yes, I too was injured, losing one hand and almost losing the other. I too did not want that to happen. I too could not eat meat for months because of the memory of my own burning flesh. I was also plagued by questions of why me? What would have happened if it did not happen? [Ziv was injured dismantling a bomb meant to kill Israeli civilians – read: “The stuff legends are made from”] What if it had been worse? And above all – was [the sacrifice] it worth it [saving others]?

I too, my dear friends, would rather forget! And yet, in spite of the difficult questions, I get up every morning, wearing a prosthetic hand in order to brush my teeth and I smile! I smile because I am grateful for the honor given to me by the grace of God – to protect with my very body the State of Israel and the life that was gifted to me.

To some of you I may sound pathetic or hypocritical but I too am one of the ones that would rather forget but is also thankful that I have something to remember! There will come a day where I will say thank you for what happened because, to me, the challenges in life are what provides the most beautiful memories. I have not yet reached that point of acceptance, like so many that were injured defending our homeland that is so precious and dear to us – but I am certain that eventually I will get there. Because of you, all of the brothers and sisters who care! Like those that said, let’s set aside one day in the year to show appreciation to those that remained alive, securing our lives with their bodies.

Open your hearts to the stories, the tremendous motivation and inspiration that can be absorbed from those who have become inspiring against their will but with hearts full of pride.

Believe me, pity is the last thing anyone is looking for – it is exactly the opposite; the point is to strengthen and inspire others to overcome their personal difficulties!

By the way, all those who think it “dangerous” to expose children and young people to the values of giving and sacrifice will continue to lead our world to a level of individualism where the only thing that matters to anyone is – themselves. Those who do not learn to give will never learn to receive [only to take].  

Some would see this day of honor for wounded warriors as a day of mourning, bereavement and sacrifice. To me it sends the message of sticking to your goals, belonging [to something bigger than yourself] and above all giving, which in my opinion is one of the most important “building blocks” to creating a better world. But that’s okay. There is hardly any consensus in our country today but the main thing is the pluralism of opinions in the country. That is what we were injured for, is not it? So that every Jew can say what is on his or her mind without fear…

I chose to give youngsters the lesson of learning to give! What about you?

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