(photo credit: Courtesy)
Every person has a name that God gave him and that his father and mother gave. Many bear the name of a relative or friend of our parents who was killed in defense of the homeland. Israeli society honors the bereaved family in a most direct and personal way by naming their children after our fallen brethren. Thousands of children that grew up with the state, and some that were born just this year, carry with them, hour by hour, day by day, the name of a relative that they themselves never had the honor to meet. They know about them only perhaps from an old photograph, or a remembrance page that lists only dry details. Never will these "living testaments" actually meet that hero of Israel that left an indelible mark on society through his life and his death.
The uncle that is no more will never meet the nephew - a Golani soldier in Pulsar - that carries his name. And the son will never meet the other son that followed the steps of his older brother.
In the battle of El-Arish during the Six Day War, Lt. Daniel Wordon of Kibbutz Givat Brenner volunteered to rescue wounded soldiers who lay pinned down by enemy fire. Those who had tried to rescue them had been wounded as well. Daniel Wordon knew he had little chance to survive his self-imposed rescue mission; he attempted it nonetheless and was fatally wounded. Due to his selfless action, Daniel received a third medal for what would be his last heroic act of bravery. My father, Yosef Danon, who fought with Daniel in the division's elite unit, swore to call his next son by the name of his brave commander.
Two years later during the War of Attrition, as part of the Eretz Hamirdafim campaign in the Jordan Valley, my father was critically wounded. Despite the terrible wound and his tough struggle until his dying day, my father kept his promise and on my birth he chose to honor his former commander by naming his son Daniel.
THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY, there are many other Daniels named for heroes of Israel. Often, this way of honoring the fallen illustrates a victory of life over death.
For the family, it is a daily reminder that symbolizes the pain and the commitment and desire to continue the path of those no longer with us. At every event and milestone in the life of the "torch bearer" who carries the name, a tendency arises to wonder how the fallen would have reacted in this situation and if he would be proud of the actions of the person who carries his name.
There are of course those who say that it is not good to place the heavy weight of the past on the shoulders of a boy on the day of his birth or to mix the personal mourning for the fallen with the life from a new generation and that we should choose another way to honor our heroes. Despite the heavy price and the bereavement that is part and parcel of our life, there can be no one "right" way to honor someone who has fallen in defense of the homeland.
With the birth of my son, my wife and I chose to name him Aviad-Yosef after my father, whom he will only have the privilege to get to know through old photographs and remembrance pages.
The writer is a Likud MK.