Remembrance Day begins tomorrow

Nation to mourn 22,570 servicemen who fell defending Israel since 1860

remembrance day soldiers 248 88 (photo credit: AP [file])
remembrance day soldiers 248 88
(photo credit: AP [file])
When the nation bows its head Monday evening for Remembrance Day it will be mourning the 22,570 servicemen and women who fell defending the land of Israel since 1860 - the year that Jews left Jerusalem's Old City walls to settle other parts of the country. In the past year, 133 soldiers and security personnel died, a figure that includes noncombat deaths. Remembrance Day officially begins at 8 p.m. Monday when a one-minute siren will sound across the country. President Shimon Peres will open the official government ceremony at the Western Wall attended by Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi as well as representatives of bereaved parents. On Tuesday, a two-minute siren will sound at 11 a.m., after which the main memorial ceremony will take place at Mount Herzl Military Cemetery in Jerusalem. There will also be a ceremony for overseas Mahal volunteers who fought and died during the War of Independence, which will take place at the Mahal memorial near the Sha'ar Hagai Junction. Ceremonies will be held at an additional 43 cemeteries around the country. The Defense Ministry has placed a miniature flag and black ribbon on the graves of all the fallen soldiers in the country's military cemeteries. On Sunday, Ashkenazi will lay a flag on the grave of the last soldier to have died in the line of duty - Capt. Yehonatan Netanel, a deputy company commander in the Paratroopers Brigade, who was killed during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip in January. "The last year has reinforced the understanding that we have yet to reach the point of peace," Ashkenazi said, at a military ceremony on Thursday night. "Even after 61 years we need to continue in our struggle against different elements who refuse to recognize the Jewish people's right to live freely in its land." This year is also the sixth year that the Defense Ministry helping people locate graves of the fallen. It not only provides the block and parcel of a fallen soldier's grave, but also gives a map of the best route to take from the gates of the military cemeteries. The service is available on a special Web site sponsored by the Defense Ministry's Department for Memorializing Soldiers and programmed by a civilian firm. It can be reached at