When the nation bows its head on Sunday evening for Remembrance Day, it
will be mourning the 22,682 servicemen and women who fell defending the
Land of Israel since 1860 – the year the first Jews left Jerusalem’s
Old City walls to settle other parts of the country.
In the past year, 111 soldiers and security personnel were killed in
the service of the state. Remembrance Day officially begins at 8 p.m.,
when a one-minute siren will sound across the country. President Shimon
Peres will open the official ceremony at the Western Wall, in the
presence of Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and
representatives of bereaved parents.
On Tuesday, the main memorial will take place at the capital’s Mount
Herzl military cemetery. A two-minute siren will sound at 11 a.m. and a
ceremony for overseas Mahal volunteers who fought and died during the
War of Independence will take place at the Mahal memorial near the
Sha’ar Hagai junction. Ceremonies will be held at an additional 43
cemeteries around the country.
In honor of Remembrance Day, the Defense Ministry has placed a
miniature flag and black ribbon on the graves of all the fallen
soldiers in military cemeteries. On Wednesday, Ashkenazi laid a flag on
the grave of one of the two soldiers who died in the line of duty most
recently – Maj. Eliraz Peretz, from Eli, deputy commander of the Golani
Brigade’s 12th Battalion, who was killed along with St.-Sgt. Maj. Ilan
Sviatkovsky, from Rishon Lezion, in the southern Gaza Strip on March 26.
“Here, between the thousands of gravestones and silent tombs, testimony
to 62 years of struggle for our freedom as a nation and a state, we
stand, year after year, in honor of the memory of our sons and
daughters whose song of life was muted prematurely and thanks to whose
sacrifice the people of Israel can celebrate the gift of liberty and
security in their own state,” Ashkenazi said.
This year is also the seventh year that the Defense Ministry has
provided a service to assist people in locating graves of the fallen.
It not only provides the block and parcel of a soldier’s grave, but
also gives a map of the best route to take from the gates of the
military cemeteries. The ministry said it anticipated that 1.4 million
Israelis would visit the 43 military cemeteries.
The service is available on a Web site sponsored by the Defense
Ministry’s Department for Commemorating Soldiers and programmed by a
civilian firm, at http://www.izkor.gov.il.