On the houses, from the windows, on the cars, from the balconies. All over Israel, Israeli flags are flying. A few minutes ago, just 45 minutes before the beginning of Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day for our fallen soldiers and those who lost their lives in terror attacks, I heard a drill going.
Slowly, the country is counting the minutes until the siren that begins a 24 hour period of intense mourning. We mourn this year for over 24,000 victims of this endless war waged against us. Soldiers and civilians, men and women, children, parents, wives and husbands, grandparents, infants.
Soon, the siren will sound. Already, the stories have begun to be told. Of Hadar Cohen, who was only 19 when terrorists attacked a border guard. Without hesitation, Hadar stepped forward and shot the terrorist and as she focused on taking her shot and saving her friend, another terrorist was focusing on her. Her parents have become part of the family of bereaved families.
And Ezra Schwartz, an American student who was visiting Israel and was shot in a terror attack. His mother has come to Israel to take part in the ceremonies and the national day of mourning.
And soldiers who died in the Yom Kippur war…tomorrow, David will stand beside the grave of one of these soldiers during the siren. I hurt for him, for what he will feel and for what the families feel.
The next 24 hours in Israel are among the hardest in Israel. We know that tomorrow night we will celebrate. We will smile and sing; we will watch the fireworks and celebrate our Independence Day.
But before we do, we will mourn with all our hearts. We will listen to the families tell us of their loss, of the amazing family members who live on in their hearts.
The neighbor was drilling, just 45 minutes before Memorial Day begins, so that he could hang a flag from his balcony.
It joins dozens of others on our blocks – on the houses, on the cars.
I won’t go to the ceremony this year. It is something I give to myself. I have a soldier in the army. I work hard to hold my tears back, to stop the endless worry for his safety.
All other years I go and I pay my tribute to those who have fallen. For these few years, I stay home. I stand and think of those we have lost during the siren, but I don’t go.
I will listen to the stories on live broadcasts and watch and learn.
Of those who fell in 1948, and those who fell in all the wars since. I will listen to the children – some of whom never knew their fathers.
And I will mourn and I will cry. But I will hold on to the knowledge that after tomorrow, another day will come.
But for now, in a few minutes, we will light the memorial candle in our house, we will listen to the siren, and we will remember them.