As an Israeli, Yom Hazikaron has always been a central part of my identity. I have lost friends, young soldiers who were under my command, people I grew up with. My father has lost too many friends during his service in the elite unit “Duvdevan”, and so on. Anyone in Israel, regardless of age, knows someone. It could be a parent, a sibling, a best friend, a brother, or a sister. It is growing up while experiencing deep sorrow and loss, as well as love and steadfast loyalty to the nation. The understanding that, at the end of the day, we all really are a big family in our tiny country.
It's to cry today, and celebrate with all your heart tomorrow - on Independence Day. It's asking a lot of questions and not always getting answers. It's dancing with friends on Independence Day, while wiping a small tear, eating another piece of steak, looking towards the fireworks in the sky and seeing them all, the 24,213 fallen soldiers and terror acts victims, and knowing that on this day, we celebrate thanks to them.
It is a day that reminds us, in the words of Natan Alterman, that the country wasn’t given to us on a silver platter. It is a day that reminds us of those who fought so that a Jewish state will turn from dream to reality. It is a reminder that at times also the women shopping at the supermarket, the children traveling to school and the couple walking in the park, are part of the frontline just as much as the soldiers who wear uniform. Every name has a face, and every person has a family. Today we remember not only those directly hurt, injured or killed in Israel’s wars and in terror attacks, but also the other circles impacted by these personal tragedies. Zeev Jabotinsky once said, “A pioneer doesn’t live for himself, but for those who come after him.” It’s possible not all those who were killed viewed themselves as pioneers or leaders. But, non the less, their deaths were part of the ongoing struggle for Israel’s security and prosperity. It is our job to make sure their lives and deaths weren’t in vain.
We have to remember that Yom HaZikaron isn’t only a personal day of grieving – rather, it’s a national day of remembrance. And, as such, it’s also a day of educating those around us, spearheading our efforts to install in our children a strong Jewish and Zionist identity. In our community there are people with many different backgrounds; men and women, young and old, immigrants and people born in the USA. Despite these differences, we all share a major common part- our legacy.
We have a strong connection to the Jewish state, some of us might know someone whose friend or relative was hurt while serving Israel. We need to keep educating those around us about the struggles Israel faced and still faces. We remember, and cherish.