Tuesday, January 18, 2011

An awful anniversary

Something happened this week and also this week in 1991 that awakened a lot of A words for ABC Wednesday.
Photo from the Home Front Command website
How many of you could use the following words in one paragraph? --
attack, anxiety, anger, atropine auto-injector, anti-anthrax
antidote, air-raid sirens, airtight, absurd, awful
Fortunately, I think that Israelis over a certain age are the only ones in the world for whom these words push a button.
It was in mid January, 20 years ago, that the First Gulf War started for us.
The first night a whole salvo of SCUD missiles were fired into Israel from Iraq.
In the next month and a half, a total of 39 SCUDs exploded.
The worst was that Saddam Hussein threatened that the warheads would carry nerve gas, anthrax, etc.
The worst was worrying about my kids.
Usually the air-raid sirens came at night and gave us a few seconds to run to our "sealed room," take cover under a table, put on the awful gas masks, and wait to hear our windows rattle and the 4-storey apartment building shake as the missiles exploded around us. (Our family lived near Tel Aviv then.)
Imagine, sealing the doors with masking tape, as if that would save us. ha!
Sometimes we had to wait a whole hour until the army checked the Scuds that had fallen and then sounded the all-clear siren, meaning no toxic agents in the warheads.
For the sake of the kids I tried to act brave and cultivate coping skills during that dreadful time.
I really surprised myself yesterday when the TV news showed a few seconds of historical film.
Suddenly hearing the siren wail and seeing Scuds explode and set fire to houses set off an uncharacteristic reaction: I burst out crying!
Apparently all that anxiety had been sitting just below the surface for these 20 years.
It was good to let it out.


Robin said...

It's hard to believe it's been twenty years since those terrible days, or even worse, the nights... My hope is that no one else will ever have to learn the meaning of the fear that lurks behind those words.

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richies said...

I remember being glued to the TV set watching the CNN coverage. I was recently discussing these events with a group of teenagers, and none of them had any idea what I was talking about.

An Arkies Musings

Kay said...

Wow! I was really surprised to read that it was 20 years ago! We were so worried about you. I hope you will all see peace from this point on.

Life with Kaishon said...

That is so scary. I can't believe it has been 20 years. I am 34 so I was 13 when that happened. It seems like a very long time ago. I am glad you are safe now.

Carver said...

I'm another who can't believe it has been 20 years ago but now that I think of it my daughter was in elementary school at the time so it would have to be. That must have been awful living with that anxiety and trying to keep things normal for the children.

spacedlaw said...

Awwww. Such a hard time (many of them is the history of Israel).

Rob and Mandy said...

20 years ago... I was in Eilat, with an American Patriot ramp in front of my house, waiting for Saddam to kill us all. I shudder at the memory.

Kay L. Davies said...

I remember the first Gulf War, and it is hard to believe it was 20 years ago. I can barely imagine what it was like for you with your children. Masking tape, indeed, but you have to do something.
Some years before that, there were two movies on TV, one called "If You Love this Planet" and another one about "the bomb" coming. My youngest brother was still in his teens, and we watched these two films together.
"What would you do," he asked me, "if you knew we only had a few hours until the bomb hit here?"
We lived on the west coast at the time, so I said, "I'd grab you, throw you into the car, and head for the Rocky Mountains."
He pointed out that we wouldn't have time to get very far, and I said, "Yes, but you are here, so I would have to try."
That all-powerful save-the-kid instinct, even if it involves less-than-perfect solutions, is almost always present in parents or older siblings.

Reader Wil said...

No wonder you burst out in tears! Such events will never be erased from your memory. I remember that day in day out we were also watching the news about the gulf war. It was all very bad and stressful! Hopefully we will not experience that again.

Jedediah said...

20 years ago already...like Richies, I remember watching the footage on CNN. I can't imagine what it must have been like for you. I remember that my grandmother hated the test alarms of the fire sirens and they give me a chill, too, ever since she told me why she reacted so badly to it.

Kate said...

It was a very difficult day. I had a class of 7th graders in my advisee group; the school had all the students meet with their advisors before the beginning of the school day to voice their feelings about the war. We sat in a circle and took turns making remarks. The last student to speak was a Vietnamese girl who had fled the country as an infant. She burst into tears and could say only, "War is bad, war is bad." It's a memory seared into my unconscious, not that I had to be convinced. We subscribed to cable for the first time then so we could follow the news. Yes, terrible days, and, unfortunately, their doesn't seem to be an end to hostilities.

Cheryl said...

I can't imagine living through that nightmare time and again. I'm as surprised as everyone else that it's been 20 years.

I hoped the tears helped you heal just a little bit more.

ABC Team

Roger Owen Green said...

Oh,, I certainly remember the 1st Gulf War. I was in library school, and one of my fellow students and I were practically in tears.

So much worse for you.

ROG, ABC Wednesday team

photowannabe said...

Oh my, 20 years ago. I remember watching in TV and getting a know in the pit of my stomach as I watched. How terrifying. I'm so glad you are safe and I hope the tears will help heal the fears even a tiny bit.

Dina said...

Shalom friends. Thanks so much for sharing your own memories and for your support.

Wanda said...

I had a hard time realizing that it was 20 years ago. What a terrible time that was. Tears do heal.

Winchester Daily Photos said...

Gosh this takes me back. I was 1 year into my job at the time and played a very tiny part in Operation Granby in the 1st Gulf War, fortunately for me from the safety of the UK. Thinking of you, as we were then.

Anonymous said...

Oh how well I remember this. As well the first year I went to the first demonstartion back home, then together with the whole school I went to, against this war; spending many an hour in front of the TV, fearing of what to come.

Please have a good Wednesday.

daily athens

Hels said...

one of my friends was 38 weeks pregnant at the time. She was afraid she would go into labour in her sealed room and would deliver a baby alone and in fearful circumstances :(

That baby is now 20 and beautiful :)

Leif Hagen said...

It's a very sad reality in our world to have to think about such things!

Pietro said...

A terrible time, and I can imagine how dreadful and terrifying it was for you and your children.

VP said...

Of those days is etched in my memory the defiant image of Isaac Stern playing a Bach sarabande while wearing a gas mask.

Greensboro Daily Photo said...

What a way to start the alphabet. I hope the letters get a little "lighter" in upcoming weeks. A very real dark spot in our collective past!

PatioPatch said...

Hi Dina, Your choice of adjectives is perfect for this awful anniversary. My sister arrived In Israel the preceeding day to be married and gas masks were de rigeur for the ceremony.

Dick said...

I remember it was on tv all the time, I hope it will never happen again. I can't believe it's 20 years ago, time goes too fast.

Lulu Post said...

I was so young then but I read a lot about it.

Visiting from ABC Wednesday. I hope you can visit my entry too.
A is for Angels

Anna said...

What an awful time you all must have had. I can understand that being reminded of it brought tears to your eyes. If you had to be brave for the sake of the children, you must have had to keep it bottled up inside you for a very long time.
It's good that you remind us, who have never had to wear a gas mask, just how lucky we are.
Best wishes,
Anna's ABC-Wd-A is for Animal-Helpers

Suzanne said...

Remember but don't relive,Dina. Working at the VA hospital since last November has really educated me.

JM said...

I remember this so very well. The word SCUD is in my mind since then...