Posts Tagged ‘War’

Memorial Day For the Fallen Soldiers and The Victims of Terror

April 25, 2012
I’ll start with a confession. I had a really hard time deciding if I should write this post. Due to the emotional state I’m in on Memorial Day, and due to the fact that I fear I’d make some horrible cynical use of it, which is not my intention. But since this the medium I chose for myself almost a year ago, here it goes.

Tonight and tomorrow, just before the celebrations of Israel’s 64th Independance day, Israel mentions Memorial Day. Now, I don’t really know how it goes in many other countries, but for me, here, in Israel, is a day words cannot describe. 24 hours in which life nearly stops still. Whrere politics takes a nap. Where TV shuts off its’ regular programming and commercials are nowhere to be seen or heard. Where families visit graves. Where many ceremonies are held. Where sad songs of loss and death and pain are heard on all radio stations.

2 sirens echo during that day in Israel. Tonight for one minute, and tomorrow morning for two minutes.

Israel’s Memorial Day was initially called “The Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers”. In 1998, it was also decieded to officialy honor within the same capacity, victims of terror attacks (the first terror attack dated on March 17th, 1953. The last one – last night [one injured;]). Thus, today it is called “The Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and The Victims of Terror”. As of tonight, the number of people honored by this day are 22,993.

The day honors eveyone: Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Russains, Ethiopians, Religious, Secular, Druze, Beduion and more of the Israeli soceity tapestry.

In this day I constantly hear two main issues rising – the memory of the fallen with the pain of loss, and the burning desire for peace, for the end of war and bloodshed. For the number to stop rising. It echoes in the President’s speech. The Prime Minister’s voice. The Cheif of Staff’s tone. They may change throughout the years, the desire never does.

When I was little, the Camp David negotiations were taking place. I remember everyone being hopeful, so hopeful, wishing that finally some peace will come. That the army would be dismantled. The following year, of course, saw the begining of the worst round of violence and blood shed ever. And yet here we are, over a decade past it, with new changes and uprisings all around us threatening even the peace treaty with Egypt, and though many may have lost faith in the other side and in the chance for peace, the majority still holds onto the want. To the need of peace. And it echoes in this day, with everyone you talk to, so loudly.

One of my favorite poems, taught in high school Literature class, is frequently mentioned in this day. A poem by Shaul Tchernichovsky, framed simply by the phrase [roughly translated: ] “You see, O Earth, how very wasteful we’ve been“. A poem written during The Arab Revolt of 1936, crying for the loss of life, cursing the earth for accepting so many bodies into it and still at the same time producing life in the form of plants.

And today. On this day. There’s something about it, and about the two main issues rising and echoing, that makes me really glad to be living here. On this side of the map. On this little next-to-nothing-yet-full-of-something piece of land. True, the conflicts go on. Wars never really end. The 126 casualties of the past year would not be the last. But taking the time, to hear the families’ stories over the news and ceremonies, to remember, to honor, to stand still and not allow life to completely go by… honestly, I hoped when i started writing that if I just keep going I’ll find the words to describe it. I didn’t.

So with the false hope that wars will end, and conflicts will be resolved, and blood won’t be shed anymore, I bid you good night.

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Click here for a short account of Israel’s many wars

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