In Memoriam – Remembering the Fallen Heroes of the IDF

April 22, 2015

3 min read

Yom Hazikaron

Every year on Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day, the country commemorates its fallen victims of terrorism and war.

Counting from the year 1860, when Jews were first allowed to live outside of the Old City walls of Jerusalem, Israel commemorates 23,320 casualties of war and terror.

Every year, Israelis set aside a special day, the day before Independence Day, to commemorate those who gave their lives to live in and protect the country from its enemies. The national day of remembrance begins Tuesday night at 8 pm with a one-minute long siren across the country. A second siren rings country-wide on Wednesday morning at 11 am.

Like all other years, this year Israel has what to remember.

Since the last Yom Hazikaron, 116 people have died, 67 of them in Operation Protective Edge. According to statistics released by the IDF ahead of Yom Hazikaron, 131 parents, 11 widows, and 187 siblings lost a loved one this past year. 21 children became orphans and two children were born after their fathers were killed, being forced to grow up having never met their dad.

In addition to the 67 soldiers killed during the 50-day war in Gaza, another 35 disabled soldiers died due to injuries they received in the line of duty.

Yom Hazikaron is certainly one of the more emotional days on the Jewish calendar, as it is hard pressed to find a home in Israel that did not know, on a first hand basis, a soldier who has given his life for his country or someone affected by terror.

Joseph Trumpeldor’s dying statement, “Tis good to die for one’s country,” rings out loud and clear in the minds of all Israelis on Yom Hazikaron.

Many Israelis who mourn the passing of their loved ones would have much preferred to have them by their side this year. Across Israel, 16,760 “bereaved families” are mourning the loss of a loved one this year, with 9,753 parents mourning their children, 4,958 widows mourning their husbands, and 2,049 orphans mourning their parents, all of whom fell in action protecting Israel.

yom hazikaron idf instagram 2“We are not a country that celebrates death,” said one IDF reserve soldier. “We celebrate life, and commemorate the lives of the fallen. We cherish the memories that we have about them, and we live their dreams through our actions. They died so that we can live. So that we can have a safe country.”

“Those who were killed in the founding of the state, in the Palmach, the Irgun the Kibbutzim and the Stern gang, just as much as those who passed away this year in Operation Protective Edge, or while off duty waiting at a train station. All of them gave their lives protecting this country, and we honor them. We remember them, and we celebrate them. It is why we have Yom Hazikaron right before Independence day. To always remember that without the one there cannot be the other. Without the heartache, there cannot be the joy.”

This year, the Department of Families and Memoriam of the Defense Ministry, who is in charge of all Yom Hazikaron activities, is preparing for over 1.5 million visitors to the 52 military cemeteries across the country this week.

One in five Israelis will spend the day visiting the graves of loved and cherished soldiers, family members and friends who died for our country. In Israel, it is an ingrained notion to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice and bless their memories.

Israel’s heroes, our protectors and our family, the ones we remember on Yom Hazikaron make up the very lifeblood of our nation. May their memories be blessed.

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