Monday, May 1, 2017

Yom HaZikaron, 2017

The words, Yom HaZikaron mean, Day of Remembrance--or, more precisely, Day of the Remembering. It is Israel's Memorial Day. It is the day we remember soldiers who have died while serving the Jewish people. It is also the day we remember civilians who have been murdered in terrorist attacks.    

Israel's National Military Cemetery is in Jerusalem. It's called, Har Herzl. It's Israel's version of the US' Arlington National Cemetery. 

Theodore Herzl is buried there. Other National Jewish leaders rest with him. Our true national heroes--our soldiers--surround him in their own eternal repose. So do those murdered by terrorists.

Each Memorial Day--Yom HaZikaron--the State of Israel honors its fallen. Israelis by the thousands visit the cemetery. The Prime Minister visits. The Chief of Staff (COS) of the Israel Defense Force (IDF) visits. Flags fly at half-staff.

It is said that, in Israel, virtually every household knows someone who has served in the IDF or who has died in battle, been wounded in battle, been affected by a terrorist attack or been killed or wounded by a terrorist attack. We are a small country. Everyone who serves is known by many. Every murder victim is known.

I have been in Israel less than 7 years. Already, I know many who have served in the IDF. I know those who have fought in war in the IDF. I know one buried at Har Herzl--a young soldier who received a full military honor guard at his burial.

He was 21 years old when he died. He remains now 21 forever.

We visited him yesterday. One of my daughters wanted to tend his grave-site before Memorial Day, to make sure it looked neat and tended. It was, we found, well-groomed. Others had been to visit him. We were pleased. 

It was good that we visited him. It felt good to have planted our own flowers, to add to others so freshly planted. The rich colors of his grave site, it turns out, were especially important because today, Memorial Day, the COS of the IDF visited the grave just beside our friend. The COS saw how our friend had been honored. He saw that our friend--born in the United States of America (as stated on his stone)--was not forgotten. He saw how this 'lone soldier' (a soldier with no Israeli family) was 'remembered'. 

Yom HaZikaron is a somber day. It is a day filled with sadness. That sadness cuts through our heart. 

Our friend is gone. We will never see him again.

He died under uncertain circumstances in 2014 before the end of the 2014 Gaza-Israel war. We do not know exactly how he died. 

He had been in combat. He was what one could call, 'battle-hardened'. He had fought in particularly dangerous situations. No one talks about those situations. His commanders honored him at his grave site in 2014. He had served with honor. 

He will never come back. We miss him. We do not forget him.  

His name is Dovid Menachem ben Root (the Israeli pronunciation). May his soul rest in eternal peace with his eternal comrades.

May his family find comfort. 

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