I was standing still while people were pulling over. They were getting out of their cars, out of the stores, out of whatever they were doing and they just stood still, waiting for it to be over. It was not the first time I heard the siren, back in my school we commemorate Yom HaZikaron and hear the siren all together. But I never understood the real meaning of it. How an entire country stops everything to mourn together the lives of those who died defending our country and those who perished because of terrorism.
I was with my parents walking around in Tel Aviv before this happened. When the siren sounded, I felt like my entire body was giving up, that I had to sit down to be able to breathe, yet I managed to stand up. I was surrounded by hundreds of people in one of the most active cities in the country, and the silence was overwhelming. Everybody remembers that girl who grew up across the street from them, who lost her life during the Lebanon War, or the amazing, caring boyfriend who was a victim during the Second Intifada. Everybody remembers those who are not longer with us.
I asked my parents to go back home, and on the way back we heard the radio stations saying the names of the soldiers who lost theirs lives. We got back home, and I turned on the TV in an attempt to distract myself. Sad music and names were the only thing available. It was both overwhelming and interesting how an entire country stopped and change their routines to mourn the soldiers and victims of terrorism. It was overwhelming to have soldiers sitting next to me during the memorial, having those heroes surrounding me. It was amazing how the whole country was entire family mourning together.
I remembered how in my school, we did commemorate Yom HaZikaron every year. We had a memorial, classes explaining the milchamot and what happens in Israel, we even have the siren and we all stand still while we listen to it and mourn. But nothing prepared me to what I felt that day in Israel, and nothing will compare to the experience I had there. Nothing will compare to that sense of unity and belonging that I felt when I was there. And even if nothing will compare to that moment, nothing will make me forget it. Today I remember.