An open letter to Israel’s widows and orphans on Remembrance Day

We feel that we are not alone in our pain.

May 9, 2016 21:37
3 minute read.
Israel fallen soldiers

Saluting fallen soldiers at the Kiryat Shaul cemetery, 1980. (photo credit: ISRAEL SIMIONSKY/ISRAEL SUN)

Dear widows and orphans, Remembrance Day is almost here again. This year, just as every year, many citizens will attend heart-rending ceremonies at the country’s cemeteries to honor their loved ones who departed too soon while defending the Zionist dream, the Jewish state.

The citizens of Israel unite on this day behind the screen of sadness, while in the background are the many stories, perhaps too many, of the fallen heroes who gave their lives for their homeland and endangered themselves for all our sakes.

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This is a day that brings together all citizens and especially us, the families of the fallen. We don’t have a real need for such a day because we live the loss every day, every hour, at every important crossroads in our lives; when our children begin their military service, get married, and raise a family; when we are successful, progress in a career, or are sad and in need of support. The void becomes greater and takes on a relentless aspect. Yet nevertheless, Remembrance Day is important. We receive a warm hug from all the other citizens and from the state.

We feel that we are not alone in our pain. On this day we very clearly transmit our heritage to future generations in the kindergartens, in schools and everywhere else when everyone stands at attention during the memorial siren; in conversations about the fallen soldiers; in the songs about those who are no longer with us, and more.

For us, the families of the fallen, there are many days of mourning during the year. Even when we are happy, the emptiness in our lives remains with us. This elephant is always in the room, and the deep pit that opened up in a moment will never be filled again. We know that thanks to our loved ones this country exists, and thanks to them most of us can sleep well and without fear. We know that they sacrificed themselves exactly for these goals, in order to ensure our future in our small land, here in the stormy and turbulent Middle East.

During the past year we gladly did not know war, but we still hear almost every day about the terrorism that strikes everywhere, in Israel and abroad. Soldiers and policemen are still a target, and grief and death still impact us. We hear about how terrorism has spread to many places, even in countries that in the past did not experience such horrifying events in which human beings just murder other human beings, without any logical reason. We unfortunately have already been living with that fear for more than 100 years.

What are we asking for after all? We want to live quietly, to allow our children to live in the Promised Land and raise new generations who will continue in our path. We desire to live in a place in which fear is not connected to wars, death and bloodshed.

We ask to live in peace with our neighbors, and not less importantly – with ourselves. For better or for worse, this is our country. We don’t have another one. That was also the thought of our loved ones, who lost their lives to preserve the little that we have, to protect ourselves and our independence.

May we never know bloody wars anymore, may we live peaceful lives, and may the family of bereavement no longer continue to grow.

We will remember our dear ones.

We will remember and will not forget.

The author is chairwoman of the IDF Widows and Orphans Organization.

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