In school I am surrounded by first and second generation Americans with amazing stories to tell about where they came from and how. My grandparents, while born in foreign countries, are completely and culturally American because they quickly assimilated after escaping the holocaust in Europe. Although I am not from Israel, much of my family lives there and my family visits the country a lot. After I graduated high school, I enlisted in the Israeli army and drafted to the 101st Airborne Battalion of the Paratroopers Brigade. Training was long and difficult, completed by a 24-hour march with heavy gear over a distance of about 170 miles. Every soldier comes from a different home, culture, and sometimes country, but everyone has to finish the march in order to receive the coveted red beret of the paratroopers, a symbol of completion. After enduring the march, my sergeant gave me his own beret as a mark of acceptance. Throughout training I doubted whether or not I truly belonged because I barely spoke the language and came from a different country. My sergeant told me that his beret was given to him by his commander and their commander before them. To me the beret represented legacy or continuance, and for the longest time I felt I was not included in this place that I worked so hard to be a part of. While I do not exactly come from a family of immigrants, I went through my own cultural journey and every time I look at my red beret, I see the family and the legacy I have joined.
– Elliot David