Nation prepares to mourn its fallen defenders

In the past year, 111 soldiers and security personnel were killed in the service of the state.

fallen soldiers pic 298 (photo credit: AP)
fallen soldiers pic 298
(photo credit: AP)
When the nation bows its head on Sunday evening for Remembrance Day, itwill be mourning the 22,682 servicemen and women who fell defending theLand of Israel since 1860 – the year the first Jews left Jerusalem’sOld City walls to settle other parts of the country.
In the past year, 111 soldiers and security personnel were killed inthe service of the state. Remembrance Day officially begins at 8 p.m.,when a one-minute siren will sound across the country. President ShimonPeres will open the official ceremony at the Western Wall, in thepresence of Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi andrepresentatives of bereaved parents.
On Tuesday, the main memorial will take place at the capital’s MountHerzl military cemetery. A two-minute siren will sound at 11 a.m. and aceremony for overseas Mahal volunteers who fought and died during theWar of Independence will take place at the Mahal memorial near theSha’ar Hagai junction. Ceremonies will be held at an additional 43cemeteries around the country.
In honor of Remembrance Day, the Defense Ministry has placed aminiature flag and black ribbon on the graves of all the fallensoldiers in military cemeteries. On Wednesday, Ashkenazi laid a flag onthe grave of one of the two soldiers who died in the line of duty mostrecently – Maj. Eliraz Peretz, from Eli, deputy commander of the GolaniBrigade’s 12th Battalion, who was killed along with St.-Sgt. Maj. IlanSviatkovsky, from Rishon Lezion, in the southern Gaza Strip on March 26.

“Here, between the thousands of gravestones and silent tombs, testimonyto 62 years of struggle for our freedom as a nation and a state, westand, year after year, in honor of the memory of our sons anddaughters whose song of life was muted prematurely and thanks to whosesacrifice the people of Israel can celebrate the gift of liberty andsecurity in their own state,” Ashkenazi said.
This year is also the seventh year that the Defense Ministry hasprovided a service to assist people in locating graves of the fallen.It not only provides the block and parcel of a soldier’s grave, butalso gives a map of the best route to take from the gates of themilitary cemeteries. The ministry said it anticipated that 1.4 millionIsraelis would visit the 43 military cemeteries.
The service is available on a Web site sponsored by the DefenseMinistry’s Department for Commemorating Soldiers and programmed by acivilian firm, at http://www.izkor.gov.il.