During these most intense days of the year in Israel and for Jews around the world when we commemorate those murdered in the Holocaust, those who sacrificed their lives for our safety in Israel and those murdered in cold blood in terrorist attacks we must ask a very important question. Is “Never Again” something of reality or just poetic consolation?

After these heart-wrenching days of mourning we jump right into the deep end of a pool of celebrations that is Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day). We have the greatest time swimming, splashing, having water fights only to later eat from countless bbq’s. But before getting wet, we really earn our R&R – we remember those no longer with us.

Remembering is a tool which can be supremely powerful if it sparks the necessary reactions. But, what do we do when we remember? We all know that remembering is associated with the holocaust. Remembering has also unfortunately become associated with the young soldiers who gave their lives so we can keep ours. But where does this remembering get us?!

While attending a ceremony tonight, one of the vets was discussing his personal hardships and posed the serious question of whether or not it is all worth it (living the aliyah dream) if the cost was seeing his friends and brothers in arms blown to pieces in front of him and then being tasked with locating their body parts? He said outright that he can’t just say yes. But, he made an important point of saying that if it isn’t worth it for you yet, it is YOUR duty to make it worthwhile. He also said that the real confirmation is when Independence Day begins.

Several others spoke and shared their stories of loss and pain. I felt both blessed and cursed sitting there, having been a combat soldier myself, but not sharing firsthand in their pain. Many of my close friends and relatives have lost close friends and relatives. I try my hardest to share in their pain. But it’s hard. The pain I do feel does not come close to the pain they experience on a regular basis. They remember all the time. For some it’s the empty spot next to them in bed, the father that won’t be there to film an elementary school play, a brother that won’t be there to annoy them or get in trouble with them. For all, it is someone.

Remembering can get us very far. Aside from the comfort remembering can sometimes bring, it brings examples along with it. As someone stated tonight, it is not the death that makes heroes heroes, it is their lives. We must honor the fallen by learning from their examples.

We each have to strive to be the best people we can be. We each have to strive to make each and every one of the deaths of the 23,320 soldiers killed to date count for something huge. We each have to protect our families and nation. We all have to learn to get along with one another so we can continue to flourish. If not, what did they die for?

These soldiers were killed while making “Never Again” a reality. They passed the torch on to us.

May their memories be a blessing.