By Jake Fisher, GPO, and eJP Staff
This evening, a siren will sound throughout Israel marking the beginning of Yom HaZikaron LeHalalei Ma’arakhot Yisrael ul’Nifge’ei Pe’ulot HaEivah, Israel’s day of remembrance for fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism. Yom HaZikaron was enacted into law in 1962 to precede Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s independence day. By having Yom HaZikaron immediately before Israel’s Independence Day, Israelis are reminded of the collective price that was paid in order to become the independent state that Israel is today.
Yom HaZikaron is a sad and emotional day throughout Israel as the majority of Israelis have lost family and friends in battle or from terrorism. To reflect the somber mood of this day, places of entertainment are closed by law and traditionally all shops, restaurants, and theaters are closed as well. In addition, television and radio programming dedicate the day to honoring the Israeli men and women that died defending their country.
As previously mentioned, the holiday begins with the playing of a siren throughout the country, upon which everyone in Israel stops what they are doing and stand in silence for two minutes. Another two minute siren sounds the following morning at 11:00 AM, marking the opening of the official memorial ceremonies and private remembrance gatherings at each cemetery where soldiers and victims of terror are buried. This tradition is meant to allow the public to take just a brief moment to reflect on those they have lost and the sacrifices of the many Israeli soldiers that allow Israel to flourish today.
Throughout all of Israel’s military conflicts, including those prior to Independence, 23,741 Israeli military personnel have lost their lives in defense of Israel, including 95 added the past year. Sixteen names were also added to the list of terror victims, including four just this past week, who perished in attacks, bringing the total to 3,150. With the recent escalations along the southern border, we are harshly reminded of how fleeting peace can be and how far we still have to go so that all Israelis can live in safety.