Life as seen and felt with my Israeli eyes.
Read how every day experiences & special occasions are really lived in Israel by someone living here and not by the media
*This is NOT a political Blog*

Apr 18, 2010

Israel's Memorial Day- Iom Hazikaron

Exactly two hours ago a one minute long siren was heard all over Israel. It was a very well known siren. It wasn't scary ,people didn't run looking for shelter. The siren didn't mean we were being attacked. It was a different sound, a sound that every Israeli knows. It was the sound of sadness. People stood still  for a whole minute and dedicated it to those who lost their lives to make sure we could have ours. 
Cars stopped in the middle of the high way, people stood still while walking , children kept silent while playing. Israel stood still to honor 22,682 people who lost their lives.
Memorial day is  one of those days that affect everyone, it's not only the sad documentaries on Tv or the nostalgic songs on the radio. In Israel the sad reality is that there isn't one person who hasn't lost a brother, a father, a mother, a sister or a friend during  Military service or to a terror attack. 
So during 364 days we go on with our lives just like any other country but then for 24 hours everything stops and the sadness starts to spread around this little country. It starts with the siren, lowering the flag, ceremonies, then meeting old friends from back in the day and remembering those we've lost. Then there's the cemetery big ceremony, visiting families of people who died and it goes on while you drive and all you hear on the radio is sad songs or while you walk on the streets and you see people caring a different look. Everyone is quiet, everything looks so different during these 24 hours. It's just something that words can't explain. it's a feeling you carry in your heart, like a knot in your throat that won't go away. That's Memorial Day in Israel. It's a day were we share our sorrow and our eternal gratitude to our dead soldiers.
It's not a day for politics, it's a day were we think about 18-21 year old children that put their lives on hold to serve our country knowing that they might never go back to the lives they had.
Cynicals and anti- Israelis love to call our soldiers names. They enjoy seeing those soldiers as murderers  or as political people but they forget that in this small country you don't choose to go to the army. You don't get payed for it either. In Israel military service is mandatory and it's not just an obligation but it's a privilege we have. After more than 2000 years where  we didn't have a place to call home, now we have a State and that State is surrounded by enemies and lately it seems like not only our neighbors but also those we used to call friends  don't really like the fact that we are here.
So in Israel when a teenager goes to the army he doesn't see it as a job, he sees it as a way to ensure that his life and his beloved ones will be safe.
Funny, but sad.. people all around the world love to think about the IDF (Israel DEFENSE force) as a big blood drinking army.. but they forget one small detail: Israel has NEVER started a war. The IDF is called that because it's main job is to protect and not to attack. Israel haters often forget that no 18 year old wishes to kill people, 18 year olds   prefer to study, to have fun with their friends, to be in love, to make love, to make big plans.. just to live life. 
But the reality in this small place is that we can't. When we turn 18 we have to give 2-3 years of our life to be make sure that nothing happens to our home.
So today I am sad and so is everyone around me. Today we cry ,we remember and we cherish each one of those 22,682 soldiers that gave up their dreams so we could go on living ours.
Today we join together in a prayer and we hope that not one more life will be added to that list. Today we honor those lost lives by living ours

It's not true that life continues
By :Yair Lapid

It is not true that life continues, they always say that but it is never true.
When you lose someone, your life, the way you knew it, would never be the same. Your family is still yours but it is different now. Your parents are different. The way you sit around the table , the way you remember the trip to Greece, with the photo album of all the hilarious  pictures you took, which now changed into a memorial document.
I really don't think that life continues. People keep asking you the same simple questions such as "how are you"? and you know they actually mean either "we know" or "we're here for you". Every time you're sad, they all stop by to cheer you up and you don't know how to tell them you definitely don't need a support –group but you just want to hide under your blanket for an hour.
Who can possibly think that life continues…? even you can never be the same .You are the one who lost a relative .You are the one who watches alone the old TV show which you always used to watch together.
You're the one that when you laugh they say you managed to get over. When you're busy, they say you are really o.k. and if you leave home for more than two weeks, they say you probably ran away.
It's not true that life continues, even your past is being edited. Every time you tell them how you took the bus together on some trip, you find yourself debating whether to mention him as "my brother" or, "my late brother" . Sometimes you just leave him out of the story because you don't want any embarrassing moments.
Sometimes, when  you meet someone who was out of the country for a long time and he asks you how your brother is feeling and you just answer "he's not feeling anymore", it's  you who need to comfort the shocked guy and say that "life continues". but it doesn't.. 
It is not true that life continues, it stops and then re-starts, differently

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