A Nation Mourns
An Israeli soldier salutes as she stands in front of a
memorial flame at Jerusalem's Ammunition Hill during a state ceremony marking Remembrance Day in
May (Uriel Sinai/ AFP/Getty Images).
At 11 A.M. on May 9, a two-minute siren brought Israel to a standstill. It was national Remembrance Day, when Israel remembers the 22,867 soldiers, police officers, and civilians who have died defending the
nation since 1860—the year Jews first moved outside Jerusalem’s Old City
walls and began reclaiming their ancient homeland.
Following the siren, memorial ceremonies were held at 44 cemeteries
around the country. The opening of Remembrance Day was marked at
Jerusalem’s Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site. Speaking at the Western Wall
ceremony, Israeli President Shimon Peres said, “We didn’t seek war. It was
imposed upon us. But when we were attacked, we didn’t have the possibility to
lose, even one war. And when we won, we returned to seek peace.”
In accordance with the sunset-to-sunset order of days in Israel, those who
only hours earlier were visiting the graves of lost loved ones were preparing to
mark the start of Israel’s 63rd Independence Day that evening.
As in other countries, Independence Day in Israel kicks off with numerous fireworks displays and mass celebrations. Nearly every Israeli visited one of the nation’s
parks in order to barbecue and celebrate with family and friends.
In few, if any, other countries on Earth is the deep sadness of Remembrance Day
meshed with the overriding joy of Independence Day. There is hardly an Israeli who
does not know someone who has died defending the nation, and every Israeli is
aware that the nation’s survival and independence remain threatened.
by Israel Today, www.israeltoday.co.il
Best-selling author and expert in Middle Eastern
studies, Randall Price, puts inside information
at your fingertips.
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