Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Omer 5775. Day 18. Yom Hazikaron

Yom Hazikaron is a sacred day in the Israeli calendar. The nation mourns its fallen. In almost every workplace, people are absent on Yom Hazikaron; everyone has an "azkara", a memorial service for a relative, a friend, an army buddy. We who make Israel our home live in debt to these young lives - fathers who will never hug their children, wives who will never again embrace their husbands, children who will lose the memory of their fathers.

As I stand for the siren, I remember their memories and pray that God spare us further loss of life.

Last year, as I reached Jerusalem on the morning of Yom Hazikaron, driving from Gilo to Talpiot, I noticed this memorial. For Yom Hazikaron it was marked by a flag at half-mast and a fresh wreath. It is a memorial to a pilot, Dan Givon, whose plane was shot down by Jordanian anti-aircraft fire during the 6 day war. The sight of this roadside monument on a highway which I travel daily induced me to pen the following poem. This site commemorates the life of a single man of the 23,320 soldiers who have fallen in Israel's defense. One life is an entire world. One simply cannot conceive of the loss of 23,320 lives.

ה' עוז לעמו יתן, ה' יברך את עמו בשלום

By the road to work,
A roadside memorial,
A monument passed daily.
Barely noticed.

Today -
A wreath,
A flag at half mast.
A reminder
Of a life cut down.
A son,
A father?
A brother?

Between Gilo and Talpiot,
A hurried, frenzied daily commute,
Where drivers curse the heavy traffic,
Wars once raged,
Blood and bullets.
Soldiers, Young men,
Struck down,
Lives lost.

Were they heroes; the brave?
Or merely the unfortunate, caught in a crossfire.

בדמייך חיי!
They gave their life,
So we could have a country,
So that we can live,
Normal, ordinary life,
Of Waze-guided driving,
Traffic lights,
Cars and buses,
The rush home from work,
To the embrace
Of loved ones.

Today we salute those men,
And bless our good fortune,
That we live in the land of the living,
To live in the land of our past,
The land of our future.

נזכור את כולם
חג עצמאות שמח!

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