Vol. 10


The Siren Sounds

January 1991; Haifa, Israel

War is a hard thing for a fourteen-year-old girl to go through, and my mom experienced it head-on.*

“Look, today we got to decorate our boxes,” my mom, Shanit, called. She held up the shiny metal box, which contained her gas mask. Her parents and her three sisters turned away from the television.

“Go put it in the room,” answered her mother. Shanit dropped the box near her parents’ bed in the middle of the main bedroom. The room was dark because of the taped windows. All the windows had to be taped because the Iraqis were firing chemical bombs into Israel. Shanit didn’t enjoy not being able to see the world but seeing only the black tape that covered the windows. It was for their safety. Luckily the bombs were fired only toward Tel-Aviv and not toward Haifa.

Shanit came back and sat next to her older sister, Idit. They watched the news quietly on the couch. My mom was only fourteen at the time, second oldest of the four sisters. There was Idit, the oldest, who was seventeen. Then there was Shanit. Then Viki, who was twelve, and youngest was Shiran, who was only seven years old at the time. They sat in silence.

Then Woooooooooooo! Wooooooooooo!

My grandfather sprang up from the couch. “Get in the room!” he yelled. My mom quickly got up and ran to her parents’ bedroom, along with her mother and her three sisters. Not far behind followed my grandpa with a bucket of water, tape, Shiran’s gas suit, and the EpiPen.** He dropped the stuff in the room. My mom and her sisters strapped on their gas masks. My grandmother helped Shiran get into her uncomfortable gas suit. My grandfather placed a wet towel in the crack under the door and taped the sides.

“Does everyone have their mask on?” asked my grandfather. The children nodded. My mom was shoulder to shoulder with two of her sisters, Idit and Viki. It was very hard to breathe in those gas masks. It took a little getting used to. The family listened to the radio and waited until they could leave the room.

To entertain herself, my mom drew pictures. She always loved drawing. That was her favorite activity.

After the family had waited a long time, the building started to shake. They heard a loud rumbling noise. At that time Patriot missiles were being fired to intercept the chemical bombs.

The building shook as the Patriot missiles flew right over the building. This was even scarier than the siren. After another half hour of fear, the radio announced that it was safe to leave the room.

This was the first time the siren sounded in Haifa — and the first time my mom’s family thought they were in danger.

Daniel Oesterle; Colorado, USA


* This story took place during the Gulf War.

** An EpiPen can immediately provide medicine to treat a severe allergic reaction.


This copyrighted story may be copied for limited classroom use or reprinted in an article about The Grannie Annie.


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