April 22, 2015

23,320 flags

Selling flags in anticipation of Yom Ha'atzma'ut.
Twenty three thousand three hundred and twenty flags are flying half-mast today. 

These blue and white flags were lovingly placed at the graveside of fallen Israeli soldiers and victims of terror.
Sixty seven years of statehood: 23,320 lives lost for the sake of being Jews in a Jewish land.
These numbers are so high, the loss so vast, the wounds so deep.
In the ten years we have been living in Israel, there have been three wars and countless acts of terror.
And every year, on the eve of Yom Hazikaron l’chayalim, Israel’s remembrance day for the soldiers, every Israeli gathers at 8pm in silence and in tears. 
Punctually, a siren wails across the country and we stand in silence and in tears to remember those who we lost. 
I attend this ceremony with trepidation as it conveys the heavy burden that comes along with Israeli citizenship. And because every year, the list of names grows. 
In our small town of Ra’anana, the list is so long, it is read in three portions.
When our mayor Ze’ev Bielski spoke last night, he encapsulated this feeling so well.
“When I was a young boy, my father said ‘Tzvika, there will be no more wars when you grow up. No army.’”
The mayor paused and continued. “And when I was a young father looking at my son, I yearned that he would not have to join the army and fight.”
“But today, when I look at my sweet grandson, I am no longer disillusioned. Because, sadly, there will be more war and we will have to send our children and grandchildren to fight. Sadly, heavily, this is our reality.”
Our reality. The names of the fallen are read and new names are added each year. The IDF published the most recent list today.
100 soldiers fell since last year.
67 fell during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza during the summer.
2 were killed in a Hezbollah ambush near the northern border
1 soldier died in a terror attack in Tel Aviv.
7 were killed in car accidents (on base or on leave)
2 more were killed in what the army called “other accidents,” such as training accidents.
1 soldier was killed in an “operational accident.”
14 soldiers died in “suspicion of suicide.”
6 more died from disease and sickness

Even the cars are patriotic. (Tel Aviv)
Babies are born, parents pray for peace, yet more wars are fought. We remember, we mourn, we shed tears and stand for HaTikvah, our feet planted firmly on the ground. 

At 11 am today, sirens wailed once more. Together, we stopped and stood on the ground in silence and in tears.

Honoring the fallen during the two-minute siren today.

We stood on our ground. If not for these soldiers’ huge sacrifice marked by 23,320 flags, we could not be here.

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