CITYsights: The dear cost of freedom

Watch as preparations get underway at Mount Herzl to celebrate the formation of the state while mourning the heavy price of freedom.

By ITRAVELJERUSALEM TEAM
May 8, 2011 15:16
2 minute read.
Israel remembers its fallen soldiers at Mt. Herzel

Yizkor tekes 311. (photo credit: ITRAVELJERUSALEM TEAM)

Named after the visionary founder of modern Zionism, Mount Herzl  in Jerusalem is Israel’s national cemetery, housing the remains of Herzl himself as well as many of the Jewish state’s leaders over the years, including prime ministers Levi Eshkol, Golda Meir and Yitzhak Rabin. However, Mount Herzl is not only a monument to Israel’s leaders - it is also the burial site for many of the soldiers and police killed in the line of duty defending the country. It is a place that at once celebrates the miracle of the formation of the State of Israel and, with row upon row of gleaming headstones, stands for the heavy price Israelis have paid to attain, and maintain, a tentative hold on this land through more than six decades of war and strife.

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Mount Herzl is at the focal point of Israel’s Remembrance Day, and several memorial ceremonies are held at the site, attended by Israel’s political leaders, military brass and, of course, the families of the fallen. As a paradoxical place of both jubilation and grief, it also epitomizes the difficult transition into Israel’s Independence Day, which commences when the sun sets on Remembrance Day. As memorial events wind down and Jerusalem is swathed in the gray light of dusk, a special ceremony is held at the main square of Mount Herzl. Torches are lit to honor the fallen, who paid the ultimate price to defend the beleaguered State of Israel, and the crowd humbly bows its head. But a few short minutes later the flames shift to the skies as the stars come out and the heavens are lit up with a brilliant fireworks display, signaling the start of celebrations that are all the more powerful for never losing sight of the dear cost of freedom.

Check out the video for the full story and stay tuned for more episodes of CITYsights.

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