The Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces, Gadi Eizenkot, released a statement for Israeli Memorial Day in which he declared, “It is our duty to remember the fallen.”
Not every country in the world honors the men and women who fell while defending it the same way. In America, for example, Memorial Day is always observed on the last Monday in May so that people can have a three day weekend. A day which was established to honor the nation’s military has become a day for going to the beach, for stores to offer sales and now simply marks the start of the summer season there.
In Israel memorial day is very much different. “Yom Hazikaron” in Hebrew begins at night, as do all Jewish holidays. It starts with a one minute moment of silence at 8 P.M. A siren sounds throughout the country and people stand still wherever they may be.
The next morning the siren sounds again at 11 A.M., this time for two minutes. Cars and buses stop wherever they are, even on highways.
At night all places of entertainment are closed and Israeli television channels do not show any entertainment programs for the entirety of the day. Only documentaries about the IDF and movies about Israel are shown.
Interestingly, it was decided at Israel’s inception to hold the day which commemorates the nation’s fallen on the eve of its Independence Day celebrations.
As part of the ceremonies held nationwide – mainly at military cemeteries such as the national one on Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem – the IDF Chief of Staff speaks to the Israeli public and issues a formal statement.
This year the new Chief of Staff – he was installed in February – gave a rather poignant statement to the nation.
IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot said, “We, the commanders of the IDF and its soldiers, stand today and salute our comrades, commanders and subordinates who fell during the course of their missions. The fallen are among the best of the country’s sons and daughters.”
“We who are left with the sense of loss, carry the memories and painful void they left behind. The monuments which stand across the country are a silent testimony to the battles and challenges that Israel has known, evidence of the stories of heroism and victory and our promise to remember the fallen. It is our duty to commemorate their life stories and their life’s work, ” wrote Eizenkot.