We have a visitor for a few weeks this summer—a 17-year-old Israeli girl who is the daughter of a friend of ours. She arrived from Israel last Monday, and we’ve been doing our best to educate her on all things Minnesota. She’s been to the lakes, the Mall of America, Uptown Art Fair, a barbecue at Lake Minnetonka—we’re trying to fit it all in.
While we were doing our best “Welcome to Minnesota” presentation, she unwittingly taught us one major difference between Americans and Israelis. As we were sitting outside at Yum! in St. Louis Park eating lunch, an ambulance raced by, and she froze. We continued eating and chatting while the color drained from her face and her eyes widened. She looked at us incredulously and asked if everyone was ok. We were, but she was not.
See, in Israel, when an ambulance races by it often means something catastrophic has happened. She was waiting to hear about a suicide bomber or deadly attack. Our ambulances usually mean some kind of medical emergency, not mass murder. She relaxed, but only slightly. We could see the effects of growing up in a country constantly under the threat of annihilation.
She was not a typical 17-year-old. Many Israelis grow accustomed to the wails of raid sirens or the scream of missiles, but not all of them. At 17, Americans are thinking about prom, high school graduation, and getting into college. Israelis (and many other teenagers all over the Middle East) are thinking about survival. The proposed Iran Nuclear Deal has exacerbated this concern.
Our guests’ reaction to the ambulance started a discussion with my kids about security. (I can see them rolling their eyes as they did when we talked about it… “Really, Mom, does everything have to be a lesson?” “Yes.”) We talked about how grateful we are to live in America. Our visitor agreed; she appreciates safety more than anyone, and we are honored to be able to offer that to her even if it is only for a short visit.
This week, I wish you, safety, security, and shared pride in America.