23,169 reasons we’re still here

I am writing this on a bus full of new Israeli Soldiers, myself included who have just joined the IDF this past week. Today is Yom Hazikaron, and for the first time last night we stood at attention as Israeli soldiers as the siren sounded and remained the only sound in the country for a full minute to remember the 23,169 fallen.

In the past it has always been hard to imagine what it was like for those who have directly lost someone in a terror attack or active duty, and to relate on Yom Haatzmaut. Now, as a soldier standing in uniform on base among hundreds of others regardless of rank, nationality, gender, or age, I felt what it means to be a soldier. To understand that despite nations and people around the world wanting and sometimes attempting to obliterate us, there are 23,169 reasons we are still here! To have the responsibility of a nation resting partially on your shoulders and being a part of the future of our homeland is a humbling feeling.

It is thanks to those who have fallen that we have a country today to call our own and to serve. Those brave brothers and sisters, mothers and father’s, friends, all became a part of history, a part of each and every one of our lives by giving theirs to protect the first proper Jewish homeland in a very long time.

The crazy thing, and something which must be witnessed to truly understand, is when tonight as we end Yom Hazikaron, we immediately jump into celebration for Yom Haatzmaut. The mood of the entire country changes from that of a somber mourning for those we know and those we don’t, to celebrating the lives saved, the lives yet to be born, and the future of our little country. After all, who doesn’t love a good party?

Flags on base
Flags on base
About the Author
Jesse Nowlin is a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces
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