by: Kate Norman
Tuesday, 28 April 2020 | Yesterday at 8 p.m. sirens blared across Israel, ushering in a solemn day: Yom HaZikaron, the Memorial Day in which the Jewish state honors those who have fallen in its defense or in terror attacks. This morning the siren blared again, calling for another moment of silence and reflection for the lives lost.
Israel is under lockdown today to prevent the spread of the virus, but grieving families visited cemeteries and memorial sites over the past several days, remembering their sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers—all taken away.
Israel has lost a total of 26,969 people since 1860—23,816 in defense of the Jewish state and 3,153 in terror attacks, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Since last year, 78 new names have been added to the list that no one wants to be on. Of those 78 people, 75 died in military service, and three civilians were murdered in terror attacks. Nearly 30,000 lives lost in total—and Israel makes a point to remember and honor each and every one of them.
Last night, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, IDF (Israel Defense Forces) Chief Aviv Kohavi and not many others gathered at the Western Wall in the Old City for a special memorial ceremony. Normally a somber, crowded event, this year the ceremony was closed to the public due to COVID-19 and was attended only by a handful of officials and soldiers wearing masks.
Yom HaZikaron is a special day for all of Israel to join with those who mourn lost loved ones every day, President Rivlin said at the ceremony.
“So that we can remember and be reminded of the two promises that are the basis of the Israeli covenant: to build by the sweat of our brow a life worth living, on that is peaceful and safe for our children, and to bring them home whatever the cost, even if they did not return from battle.”
“This year, we cannot cry together, this year we cannot look each other in the eye, but we remember these two promises,” Rivlin lamented. “We will remember and be reminded, and we will feel fully, even after this year, the inconceivable price we must pay so that these promises are kept.”
IDF Chief Kohavi noted that many Israelis “have relatives, neighbors or acquaintances who gave their lives, and most of the people have a deep sense of identification with sacrifice.”
“The whole nation of Israel is grieving today,” he continued. “But the pain of your families cannot be described. It is constant and infinite, residing in the heart and consciousness, present like the circulation of blood in the body and pulsing continuously. And the pulse increases every time you hear the song he loved, every time you prepare the dish she loved and every time you see a soldier with a beret of the same color, and then imagination and reality mix.”
Following the broadcast of the ceremony last night, Israelis stood on their balconies and sang as one Israel’s national anthem, Hatikvah, which means “the hope” and describes the yearning of the Jewish people to be free in their homeland.
Having an independent Jewish state has come at a high cost—and before Israelis celebrate the rebirth of their modern nation tomorrow in Israel’s Independence Day, today they will pause to remember the sacrifices made by thousands to purchase that freedom.
Posted on April 28, 2020
Source: (Bridges for Peace, April 28, 2020)
Photo Credit: Jenna Solomon/bridgesforpeace.com
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