I get to the cemetery early. Some young people handed me a bouquet. I turned to the graves; there were so many of them. I did not know which one to lay the flowers on. I chose 34 year old Lt. Eliyahu Tadri who perished in July of 1948. It has been a most sad day. I am in a blue funk. Nearby to Lt. Tadri were the graves of three 18 year olds. It has been a very sad day. Early that evening at the Mincha service we say the Kaddish prayer.
mmediately following Yom Hazichoron, Memorial Day, we begin celebrating Independence Day, Yom Ha-Atzmaut. The scheduling of Yom Hazikaron right before Yom Ha-Atzmaut is intended to remind people of the price paid for independence and of what was achieved theough the soldiers' sacrifice. This transition shows the importance of this day among Israelis, most of whom have served in the armed forces or have a connection with people who were killed during their military service.
The contrast between 4 of July and Yom Ha-Atzmaut celebrations brings to the fore, once again, the difference between the two cultures and their every day differing realities of life and death. During the Maariv service the Ark is opened; we say the Hallel and the Shofar is blown. I am still wrestling with my emotions from Yom Hazichoron. I don’t feel like dancing and the fireworks of Independence Day hold little attraction. I drink a L’Chaim to Lt. Tadri and go to bed.. For we Israelis, that self same message rings true today as it did more than three thousand years ago: Be strong and persevere.