(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
On November 3rd, a special project was dedicated on the Hazor Air Force Base in memory of Alon Gigi Z"L (Zichrono L'Bracha – Of Blessed Memory) , a young man who was killed in an automobile accident nine months ago on his way home. The project includes a memorial to Alon, as well as facilities that will benefit soldiers and members of the IDF squadron serving on the base, who carry a symbol of the scorpion as their emblem. The project, which was funded by an anonymous contributor, was built by KKL-JNF. The dedication ceremony was held on the day that would have been Alon's 19th birthday, and was attended by his family, friends, the base commander, and members of KKL-JNF.
The project consists of shade awnings, picnic tables, a picturesque terrace for relaxation, and landscape development in the area surrounding the squadron command buildings. The project underwent numerous changes from the time it was first conceived and planned four years ago until its completion. After numerous efforts on the part of Michael Ben-Abu, head of the KKL-JNF's Israel Fundraising Department to mobilize funds for the project, a generous contributor was found who was willing to make an anonymous contribution to enable completion of the project.
Michael Ben-Abu, who served as the spokesman at the dedication ceremony, remarked: "The death of a loved one a son, a brother, or a comrade in arms, particularly an untimely death of a young person, leaves us with a gaping abyss that may never close, and a painful wound that may never heal. One of the most important lessons I have learned over the past few years in my work of commemorating fallen soldiers and civilians is the obligation to remember and to grow. I have observed the Gigi family bearing their tremendous pain that is still very new, and I see how it is possible to both remember and grow with extreme sensitivity. I hope and pray that visitors to "Yad Alon" and to the 105th Squadron will remember the handsome and pure Alon in their hearts."
Contrary to their usual tough macho image, the fighter pilots were the ones who were the most emotional during the ceremony. Many were directly involved in all stages of planning and implementation of the project, right from the beginning. At the ceremony Major G., the squadron commander, read aloud several excerpts from a poem about the relationship between a tree and a boy. "The boy in the poem is our squadron, which has been nurtured by the endless enthusiasm and diligence of all those who participated in the construction of the new facilities and plantings. The tree in the poem is KKL-JNF, who has happily and unceasingly provided us with a quiet restful corner where we can rest from our rigorous daily routine. They have done all this in exchange for nothing at all, except for a happy smile from us."
Colonel D., the base commander, spoke about the difficult week that the soldiers underwent due to attempts from the Gaza Strip to bombard the base with rockets. Turning to Orna and Danny, Alon's parents, he promised, "We will never forget Alon Z"L, nor you, and the KKL-JNF family.
This contribution will serve us for many years to come, and will ultimately serve the security of the country as well."
Ami Uliel, head of the southern region for KKL-JNF, presented the squadron commander with a certificate of recognition from KKL-JNF. In his congratulatory remarks, he expressed hope that all of Israel would be able to live in security thanks to the help of those serving at the Hazor Air Force Base and the strength that they possess.
Orna and Danny Gigi, Alon Z"L's parents, had difficulty concealing the pain they have carried over the past nine months since the accident in which their son lost his life. "He grew up to be a wise, exceptional child; a tall, robust youth, with a unique joie de vivre. Alon was a rare breed – a dedicated athlete, curious, and conscientious. He pursued many different types of sports, kept himself extremely physically fit, and led a healthy lifestyle. He told us where he wanted to live, what he wanted to do with his life, how many children he intended to have, and how he would educate them to be nature lovers. He told us of all his plans for the future – even what he would do when he would reach old age, but he never lived to do that."
Danny Gigi, head of the Southern Negev and Arava Region for KKL-JNF, spoke about how much thought the family had devoted to establishing a memorial for Alon, with emphasis upon the values that were part of his life and which the family wanted to commemorate in his honor: Adherence to objectives, educating towards a healthy life, pursuit of sports, happiness, friendship, and striving for excellence. "It is symbolic that the first memorial site for our Alon, who did not live long enough to serve in the IDF, was established here among the confines of an air force battle squadron – a fortress of excellence where many people adhere to those values together."
After the ceremony, Alon's parents, grandparents and the head commanders of the base planted four oak trees (for which Alon is named). The trees stand in the gardens surrounding the memorial site, adjacent to a pleasant spot that will be enjoyed by the members of the squadron and other soldiers serving at the base.
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