In honor of Yehoshua Friedberg and all the 23,645 fallen who gave their lives for this amazing country.
Every year, around a month before memorial day hits, a feeling of nervousness and fear comes over me. It is not fear of physical danger and it is not fear for the future. It is fear of the present in the purest form.
See, for the past 25 years, I have been invited to different forums to speak of my friend, my platoon mate and a role model for many.
His name was Yehoshua Friedberg.
He was an amazing friend, a good person, and one of the best IDF soldiers I ever knew and served with. He was kidnapped and murdered by terrorists and it seems like yesterday…
Every year I sit for hours and sometimes through the night trying to write a speech in memory and in honor of Yehoshua and I am always terrified that I will not find the words to do him justice. Will I my words sink in for those who are listening? Will I be able to get the message across? Is it at all possible to describe in words the amazing person Yehoshua was? Will I be able to finish speaking without choking on my own tears? It is a feeling of fear that causes me tremendous stress as memorial closes in.
Maybe this year I won’t speak…..
NO! I can’t do that to Yehoshua! and then I begin to write again for several minutes and again I angrily crush the paper…WHY DID IT HAPPEN?! DAMMIT, I HATE THIS!
I am not even speaking to anyone and I am already choking up! WHY!
I hate the siren, I despise it and yet it is something that I look forward to every year.
When the siren screams, I close my eyes and I can clearly see Yehoshua’s body, lifeless! 25 years might have gone by but the wound is fresh and it is a nightmare that never ends.
The siren wails for two minutes and I, every year, relive the nightmare of finding Yehoshua lifeless body….
WHEN IS THIS SIREN GOING TO STOP! I don’t want to relive this again…but as I close my eyes, I am back there!
I am back in that horrible place again. A nightmare from 25 years ago and it feels like yesterday.
I am on Yehoshua and I pounding his chest, screaming;
WAKE UP DAMMIT! WAKE UP!
PLEASE! SOMEONE STOP THE SIREN! I DON’T WANT TO SEE THIS AGAIN!
But the siren does not die, it only gets stronger…. the knife is cutting deeper and the memories are hurting so bad.
Every year, I relive it…every year, we all relive it!
And my eyes gently close and I am back in the nightmare again.
The officer came into our tent to ask us, the Lone Soldiers, if we know where Yehoshua is.
At the time we could not even fathom the downward turn our lives were about to take and we certainly could not possibly imagine in our worst nightmare Yehoshua’s fate.
We looked the officer straight in the face and answered him without the smallest amount of concern;, “of course, we know where Yehoshua is, he went for tests to be accepted to IDF officer’s course and he spent Shabbat in Jerusalem with his fiancee.”
The officer looked at us and there was a deafening silence. “Guys, they found Yehoshua’s personal belongings on the road between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.”
“So what! We said…” he lost his stuff…big deal…. ”
I don’t want to. relive this again, so I open my eyes hoping to wake up….
THAT DAMN SIREN!
SOMEONE STOP THE SIREN, I DON’T WANT TO LIVE THIS AGAIN…. I WANT TO WAKE UP!
But, the siren screams louder and I close my eyes again and I am back in the nightmare.
The officer tells us that we are going out for search parties.
We look at each other puzzled and ask, “Search parties? For what?”
The officer looks at us and we can see the pain in his eyes as he tells us that the IDF is working under the assumption that Yehoshua was kidnapped by terrorists….
STOP THE SIREN!!
We searched in the pouring rain for 3 days….and then we found him…but….. PLEASE STOP THE SIREN! I DON’T WANT TO SEE THIS AGAI….my eyes close slowly and I am back in the nightmare….again.
Is it the siren I am hearing now or is me screaming in the nightmare when I realized Yehoshua was gone?
My eyes close again and tears stream down my face… and I am back in the nightmare again…
We rolled Yehoshua’s lifeless body over and try CPR…
WAKE UP DAMMIT! WAKE UP! WAAAKKKEEEE U…..He’s gone…NOO!!! WAKE UP!
Is that the siren or is it me crying?
Yehoshua’s body is lifted on to the IDF truck and as the truck drives away…the siren is finally dying down….I open my eyes but I can still hear the siren….it never goes away…..
Yehoshua Friedberg, dearly missed, NEVER forgotten.
He came to Israel while others were running away (1st Gulf war).
He drafted to the IDF at an age when most soldiers were finishing up their service – 24.
He put his people and land before his own safety.
We continue to cry over his death and yet we continue to live with the torch he lit by the way he lived.