(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
"Standing here today, we are reminded what a bittersweet vista this memorial represents. Set in a peaceful forest overlooking the foothills surrounding Jerusalem, it provides a scene, which is at once pastoral and at the same time, also evocative of battles and hand-to-hand combat, marking critical episodes in the establishment of the State of Israel. It is humbling to stand here beneath trees whose roots delve deep into Israel’s past, enabling the branches to reach up towards the sky." The Hon. Daniel B. Shapiro, Ambassador of the USA in Israel, was speaking at a ceremony that took place on Monday, September 24, at the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel (AACI) Memorial Forest overlooking Sha'ar Hagai and the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway. The ceremony, which takes place annually, was in memory of North Americans and their families who fell in the defense of the State of Israel and in acts of terror.
"This delicate balance between life and death, is far too great of a reality in Israel’s day to day existence," the ambassador continued. "And so it bears repeating once again that the United States stands, more than ever, by Israel’s side as a friend and ally, deeply committed to its security and independence.
"The more than 300 North Americans and Canadians whose memory we honor here today join ranks with the tens of thousands who have died for Israel. No part of Israel’s statehood was won without sacrifice. The enduring and unshakeable bond between the United States and Israel rests on America’s deep understanding of the sacrifices Israel has made to gain and uphold its independence.
"After tragedies, we often say 'never forget,' but time goes on, and life is busy. When witnesses and loved ones die and memories fade, the challenge to remember, and in turn, to really understand, becomes more difficult. Too often we forget. This is why I salute the efforts of the Americans and Canadians in Israel in memorializing fallen friends and countrymen with such appropriate respect and honor. You are the torch-bearers of the shared values that Israel and the United States hold dear. You are an embodiment of our joint vision for the future."
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