Monday, May 9, 2011

Day of Regret

Today marks Memorial Day (Yom Zeekaron) in Israel. Last night, there were ceremonies across the nation, or at least across the Jewish portions, honoring and remembering Israel’s fallen. The dead and injured are not considered martyrs, every mother, every wife, every father, every husband, every child, prefers their loved ones returned. Many of the televised memorials feature interviews and biographies of the bereaved. There is no joy in any of the deaths.  There is a sense, however, a knowledge that those deaths are close to all of us, they are unavoidable, they could be any of us, of ours.

At 10AM a horn sounded, everyone stands at attention, if they are driving, they stop their cars and get out, if they are sitting, they stand up. For two minutes.

My step-daughter, who turns eighteen in five months and enters the Israeli army next year, was in charge this year for organizing the memorial for the fallen at our neighborhood’s community center. Inside, songs and poems written by Israeli pop singers, poets, and even a waitress about war and loss were written on posters and nailed to the walls. None of the words were jubilant.

The Scouts (the Israeli version of boy/girl scouts but more intense) had assembled a tent, laid out two cots, army uniforms, waiting, it seemed, for the missing soldiers. There was a guitar laid across one of the cots.

Pictures of all the men and boys from the neighborhood who’d died in Israel’s past wars and confrontations lined the walls. Most of the pictures were snapshots taken by parents, perhaps girlfriends. Only one or two showed the soldier in uniform.

I had errands to run today, which took me an hour longer than usual due to the traffic backed up miles, the cars parked on the sides of roads, near the military cemetery.

There was not a single Memorial Day sale.

What am I trying to say? I don’t know. It was/is a sad day. It is a day of remembering. It is a day of honor. It is a day of regret.

Tomorrow is Independence Day (Yom Ha-Atsmaoot). Tomorrow comes the jubilation. Today is a day of regret.

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