Memorial Day: Family of fallen soldier won't visit son's grave in protest of gov't

The family of Yossi Garciani wants to avoid running into politicians on Memorial Day and placed a sign on the grave, writing that they would not come to visit.

Family members visit the graves of their loved ones at the military cemetery on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem on April 11, 2021 (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
Family members visit the graves of their loved ones at the military cemetery on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem on April 11, 2021
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

"Sorry Yossi, we are not here this year. Like you, we went out to fight for the right to freedom and democracy. With love, Mom, Didi and the whole family."

This message was written on a sign that was placed on Yosef (Yossi, Joe) Garciani's grave in the Kiryat Shaul cemetery by his family on Friday.

Garciani, 22 years old when he fell, was killed in the Yom Kippur War and awarded a division commander's medal "for showing courage, leadership and the brotherhood of warriors" on the battlefield.

The family explains their decision

"Our family will not participate in the ceremony this year," stated his sister Didi Nachshon. "It is unthinkable that one of the politicians who want to destroy the foundations on which the State of Israel was founded, will speak to the hearts of the families, a large part of whom have not slept for three months in fear and terror of the violent attempt to change basic laws and make us into a dictatorship state."

"Memorial Day and Independence Day are exactly the days when we need to remember and think about the meaning of the loss of life of the soldiers who are sons, brothers, husbands, fathers. And just as they fought and were killed for the independence of the State of Israel - we now have to continue the war and fight for our independence and our values in every possible way," wrote Nachshon on Friday morning.

Memorial Day in Kiryat Shaul cemetery north of Tel Aviv on May 8th, 2019 (credit: ANNA AHRONHEIM)Memorial Day in Kiryat Shaul cemetery north of Tel Aviv on May 8th, 2019 (credit: ANNA AHRONHEIM)

"For several years now, my mother and I have not participated in the Memoiral Day ceremony. A ceremony that doesn't respect the fallen and the parents, widows and orphans. Every year for 47 years (until my father passed away and my mother did not make the journey) we left the house at half past eight, nine at the latest, and made our way towards Kiryat Shaul. 15 minutes drive from our homes to the cemetery. We leave early so we can park somewhere nearby. So that the parents of the adults can withstand the journey in the fields of Kfar Hayarok," Nachshon told.

"They arrive and stand and wait and wait in front of the grave for the ceremony to begin. My mother would arrange the flowers and my father would sit on the plastic chair because he could no longer stand. His body hurts, his heart hurt, and slowly more and more people would arrive and the crowd increase. People would rush to the grave of their loved ones and the paths are narrow," she noted.

She continued: "Then a siren, silence and silence. Tens of thousands standing still in memory of all those wonderful people who were and now are not, who dedicated their lives to our cause for the sake of the country, and then again noise and commotion in the background of the words of the prime minister or the words of the defense minister. The mountains of Kiryat Shaul or Mount Herzl are places with a lot of captive audiences. And instead of saying little and referring to the pain of each of those tens of thousands of people who stand in front of the grave of their loved ones, they stand and speak of their political doctrine. And it really doesn't matter from which camp, right or left, it doesn't interest anyone on such a difficult and sad day.

"We went for decades because my mother said she didn't want Yossi to be alone," Nachson added. "Until one day, even though we left the house at eight thirty in the morning, we were unable to find a reasonable parking spot, so we parked the car on Highway 5 and walked through the fields of Kfar Hayarok, and the siren caught me and my mother (90 years old) in the middle of the road. We both stood in a plowed field alone. We continued walking and arrived at Yossi's grave towards the end of the ceremony. Since then we have decided not to come to the ceremony anymore and we find other more respectful ceremonies. And my brother, my beloved and dear brother - he lies alone."

The story of Yosef Garciani

The Yizkor website which commemorates the fallen soldiers of the IDF has a page about Garciani.

"Yosef was drafted into the IDF at the beginning of November, 1969 and assigned to the Armored Corps. He was a good and disciplined soldier, responsible and dedicated to his duty, and as a commander, he cared for his subordinates. He participated in an operation with his unit and was awarded the operational service badge. Thinking of his parents and not wanting to worry them, he did not tell them about the difficulties and dangers he went through in the operation.

"During the Yom Kippur War, Yossi participated in the containment and breakout battles against the Egyptians on the Sinai front. On October 17, 1973, he was killed in battle at the train station near Shfaram. He was laid to rest in the Kiryat Shaul cemetery. He left behind a father, mother and sister. After he fell, he was promoted to the rank of first sergeant.

"For showing courage, leadership, spirit and brotherhood, the commander of his division singled him out for praise. And this is the description of the act: 'On October 17, 1973, Sergeant Yosef Garciani, a tank driver, served as the platoon commander. This tank moved at the head of a force of paratroopers, which was engaged in clearing the area west of the Suez canal. When they continued moving, the turret of the tank was damaged and its crew members were injured. The wounded were evacuated into a building. They stayed there for a long time without water and their condition worsened. First Sergeant Yosef Garciani, who volunteered to bring water, ran under fire to the damaged tank, took water out of it and on his way back he was hit and fell.'''