Earn it…Pt II

May 9, 2010

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How do we maintain the balance between grieving the fallen, and honoring their sacrifice?

Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day, presents a painful and complex challenge in Israel and in the Diaspora. Ceremonies throughout the world grapple with the public and private, the national and the intimate aspects of this day.

Yom HaZikaron had once been the sole ‘property’ of the army and the State. Until recently, even gravestone inscriptions were dictated by the army and not the bereaved family.

Of late it would seem the country is pulling in a different direction, marking the pain and loss of parents, children, siblings and partners. TV stations have been showing intimate reminiscences of fallen soldiers for the last few days, and readings at ceremonies are now full with powerful moving eulogies, with far fewer uplifting poems of pride, sacrifice, and honor.

On the one hand, we should be proud that Israel has not become hard-hearted and callous. This country-at-war gives voice and comfort to those in the pain of grief. On the other hand, where and when do now we address the higher purpose for which these lives were given? Our soldiers died in defense of the State of Israel, in which we live and thrive.

How do we both grieve and give thanks to the fallen of Israel?

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