Arlene from Israel – Yom HaZikaron.

Tonight begins Yom HaZikaron in Israel – Memorial Day, in remembrance of those who have fallen for the State in battle, and those who have been victims of terror.
Credit: Ha’aretz.
This is a day of mourning that encompasses all of the nation. There is no way to understand Israel without understanding this.  We here in Israel have our differences, big time.  But when it comes to this, we are a family.
It starts with a siren that calls everyone to stand in silence out of respect for the memory of those who have fallen; there will be another at 11 AM tomorrow.
The day is taken so seriously that all places of recreation – theaters, restaurants, etc. – are closed.  TV and radio shows focus on stories of the bravery of the fallen; names of those lost are read.
Tonight there was an official ceremony at the Kotel.
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Credit: Reuters/Nir Elias
Without a superb fighting force, without the soldiers of Tzahal. there would be no State of Israel.   It is that stark, and that simple.  And so we lose some number of that fighting force – often the very best – in one war or military operation after another.  Their lives are cut short at the tender age of 19 or 21 or, if they are in the reserves, perhaps at 35.
They leave behind bereaved parents, spouses, and young children.
Credit: JewishExponent
They also leave behind their comrades-in-arms, who do not forget.  I’ve heard some amazing stories about those comrades, who remain forever devoted to the families of those fellow soldiers whom they have lost.

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Credit: Think Israel
The military cemetery at Har Herzl was prepared on Sunday, with a flag placed on each military grave.  Said IDF Chief of General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, during the special ceremony:
“We come here today, as we do every year, to lay the Israeli flag on the graves of the fallen. This is our way to express our longing and appreciation for these soldiers, who paid with their lives for the defense of the country they loved…

“Dear families, one cannot fully understand the pain you feel, the pain that does not wane with the passage of time. So all we can offer is our support.

“…we will accompany you, and share with you the longing for boys and girls who never came home.

“…Remember their love and devotion to the state, their determination to protect Israeli citizens and residents. The heroism [with] which they acted to ensure victory.”
Tomorrow, 1.5 million bereaved will visit over 50 military cemeteries nationwide.
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For the families, there is the pain of loss, which never goes away. But there is also great pride.  Hear the astounding testimony of one mother, Miriam Peretz, who lost two sons in different wars.

And please see this very beautiful short video, as well:

The prayer for the IDF, sung by the IDF’s chief cantor, Lt. Col. Shai Abramson

This day also marks those who have fallen at the hands of terrorists. Terrorism is another painful face of Israel’s wars.
The most recent victim of terrorism – Shalom Sherki – fell exactly a week ago.  I know of at least one yeshiva high school – where Shalom had worked, and was deeply loved – that tonight brought its students to the bus stop where he was killed, to honor his memory with songs and ceremony.

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 Since Israel’s founding, 23,320 soldiers and victims of terror have lost their lives.
In Israel there are 9,753 grieving parents, 4,958 widows, and 2,098 orphans.
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© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. Contact: akushner18@gmail.com

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