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Their all-American stories: Gadi Galater

Posted: July 4, 2012 1:30 a.m.
Updated: July 4, 2012 1:30 a.m.

Gadi Galater

 

Gadi Galater didn’t have what most people would call a normal childhood. He was raised in northern Israel, close to the border of Syria and Lebanon, during the 1960s and ’70s.


It was a time of tension as Israel fought with Syria over water resources.

“Quite often, we had to go to the bomb shelter,” Galater said of his youth.

One of the memories that defined the Valencia man’s childhood was watching a dogfight between Syrian and Israeli forces overhead. He stood on the soccer field and watched as the Syrian jet was shot down and crashed in the nearby mountains.

“That’s life,” Galater said about watching the jet fall from the sky.

Despite the nearby violence, Galater said he wouldn’t trade his childhood for anything because it taught him what it meant to belong. Both his mother and father were Holocaust survivors.

Immediately after Galater graduated high school, he joined the Israeli army. He said he grew up with the expectation that youth would fight to defend their country.

Mandated to stay in the Israeli Defense Force for three years, Galater said he served with honor from 1974-77.

Determined to travel, he toured Europe and America, eventually spending six months hitchhiking around the United States.

“I went wherever the wind blows,” Galater said of his experience as a 22-year-old. “It was an experience that I wish young people today would experience.”

In 1979, Galater began working for a small machine shop, and he moved to Santa Clarita in 1989.

Galater said he admired America when he first moved here, but has since grown disillusioned with the country.

“Back in the ‘80s, people had a lot more tolerance towards each other,” Galater said. “Today it’s a divided state of America.”

Despite his reservations about the direction Galater said the nation is heading, he pointed to the 1994 Northridge earthquake as an example of how America differs from any other country.

His apartment on Circle J Ranch Road was demolished and he had to move out, but the way the Federal Emergency Management Agency helped restore the community was memorable, he said.

“In a matter of three months, they rebuild everything,” Galater said. “When people come together and work together, we can make this world so much better.”

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