Live always at the edge of poetic possibilty, even in the face of severe prose. - Walter Bruggemann

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Yom HaZikaron, Day of Remembrance

Yom HaZikaron, Day of RemembranceToday in Israel the memory of her fallen soldiers is being observed. It is quite a mournful day as Israel remembers the men and women of the Israeli Defense Forces and Israeli Security Services and victims of terrorist action who have lost their lives. It is Memorial Day here. At 11:00 am a siren sounded for two minutes throughout the country. Traffic stops no matter where you are in remembrance of the fallen. It is not like Memorial Day in the United States filled with parades and bar-b-ques, it is filled with prayer and reflection.

I attended a ceremony at the local high school in Rehavia which is not far from my house. Although in Hebrew, parts of the service I could understand. We stood when the siren wailed the two minute salute and then recited Kaddish Yatom - a special prayer that praises God. Kaddish is said during a time of mourning for people who have lost loved ones. A torch was lit and the ceremony began.

The high school has been functioning for 99 years and during that time 137 individuals, students and teachers have lost their lives. Their names were read individually according to the period in which they lost their lives. The students read poetry and sang songs. It was quite moving. The service ended with Hatikva, the Israeli National Anthem. Hatikva means 'the hope', the hope of Jewish people to return to their homeland.

I am not an advocate for war but I do believe that we should honor those whose lives have been lost in defense of his or her country. As the names were being read I heard my last name among them. My name is not a common one here and so when I heard it, it jarred me. I thought of my own children and it reminded me that the fallen soldiers were so young with so much potential and hope for a nation.
In Israel every young person, after high school does military service for three years. Everyone. I'm sure that families are prepared in the corners of their minds for the very real possibility of losing their loved one. The reality is, they could..and many do.
Let us remember all of the people who have died, no matter what country that they are defending, for in their death they have given a nation and life to us.

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