This is being written on Israel’s Memorial Day For Fallen Soldiers as well as Israel’s 73rd Independence Day. I want to remind readers about a recent Blog I wrote paying my respects to Boulder, Colorado Policeman Eric Talley who saved many lives during the recent terrorist attack on a supermarket by a Muslim gunman. If I had more time, I have many more names to add.
This Blog recognizes two other heroes — IDF Capt. Tamar Ariel and US Capitol Officer Billy Evans.
The Knesset first honored Israel’s fallen soldiers with the Heroes’ Remembrance Day (War of Independence and Israel Defense Army) Law-1963. The law was renamed in a 1980 amendment as the “Memorial Day for the Fallen of Israel’s Wars Law.” The significance of this change was in its expansion from a memorial day of the fallen soldiers of the state to a memorial day that includes all those killed in action during pre-state battles.
Memorial Day also commemorates deceased members of the Israeli Police, the General Security Service and the Mossad.
For this Blog I am including Capitol Police Officer Billy Evans who no doubt would be on this list if he was living here. The same holds true for Officer Talley.
One of Israel’s great heroes: Tamar Ariel
A Jerusalem Post article published on November 28, 2019, honored Capt. Tamar Ariel who was the Israel Air Force’s first religious female navigator. The article’s headline appears above along with a brief summary of its contents as follows-
Ariel died in a blizzard in Nepal in 2014, at age 25.
Nearly five years after Ariel died, the Defense and Heritage Division of the Defense Ministry announced that it had recognized Ariel as an official fallen soldier. The decision was made following evidence provided to the Defense Ministry that shows Ariel died while attempting to save other people’s lives, which qualifies for the 1965 Compensation Law for a Soldier Injured to Save Others’ Lives.
“Tamar was not recognized by the Defense Ministry as an IDF fallen soldier, since she had not died while taking part in an active IDF military operation,” explains her mother Anat.
“We wanted to prove that Tamar had acted in accordance with the rules of conduct for soldiers on the battlefield. She’d engaged in a battle for survival in war-like conditions on that mountain. The only thing on her mind was to help save others from the horrifying situation they’d been caught in. As an officer in the IDF, she immediately took charge, gave instructions, encouraged people she encountered along the way, and warmed up those who were suffering from the intense cold.”
That was in October 2014, when Ariel went on a trip with friends to the Himalayas. During a severe snowstorm, Ariel and three of her friends perished.
Anat added that her family has “faith in G-d, and believes that we are part of something greater than ourselves, that we must strive to live meaningful lives. We need to put in a lot of effort to accomplish our goals, but it’s Hashem that makes the final decisions. That’s our fate, and that was Tamar’s fate. We accept this, as painful as it is.
“When Tamar finished her two years of national service like all her friends from high school, she felt like she still hadn’t served her country enough, and so she enlisted in the IDF at the age of 20. We, of course, supported her in this decision, since we believe in supporting our children in whichever path they choose. And it is our responsibility to encourage our children at all times, and to assist them when they fall down.”
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US Capitol Police Officer Billy Evans
This past Tuesday, a special service took place in the rotunda of the US Capitol Building remembering the life of US Capitol Police (USCP) officer Billy Evans. Officer Evans was killed on April 2 when a driver rammed his vehicle into the north barricade of the Capitol complex, slamming into Evans.
That driver also hit USCP Officer Kenny Shaver, crashed the Altima into a steel barricade, and leaped from the vehicle, waving a machete.
It was the second attack on the Capitol this year.
An honor guard carried Evans’ flag-draped casket into the Capitol Rotunda as his wife and children, Abigail and Logan, looked on — each child clutching stuffed animals and his son wearing what appeared to be his father’s patrol cap.
STATEMENT FROM THE FAMILY OF OFFICER BILLY EVANS
You can read the full statement from Officer Evans’ family below:
Billy was the best father, son, brother, and friend anyone could ever hope for. His death has left a gaping void in our lives that will never be filled.
The absolute most important thing in his life was his two children, Logan and Abigail. His most cherished moments were those spent with them — building with Lego, having lightsaber duels, playing board games, doing arts and crafts, and recently finishing the Harry Potter series. He was always so eager to show how proud he was of everything they did. Any opportunity to spend time with his children brightened both their lives and his. Their dad was their hero long before the tragic events of last week.
While family was always first, Billy had the open, welcoming personality that led him to make friends with anyone he met. He relished bringing people together and making sure everyone felt included and had a good time. The countless testimonials that we have heard from people who knew him capture the warm, funny, and caring person we loved.
Billy was proud to be a United States Capitol Police Officer. His colleagues from the North Barricade were the people he spent so many hours with, and their friendship was one of the best parts of his job. We hold them in our hearts, as we know they acutely share our grief.
Our family is grateful for the immense level of support we have received from USCP in the darkest moment of our lives. The outpouring of support we have received from the law enforcement community from around the country and world both humbles us and serves as a testament to Billy’s sacrifice and dedication to the mission of which he was charged.
We appreciate the level of privacy we have received so far and ask for your continued respect during this difficult time.
STATEMENT FROM THE FAMILY OF OFFICER BILLY EVANS
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All three of these heroes were good people, who served their country with honor. It is ironic that Officers Talley and Evans died in the line of duty working on Police forces in the US where these types of attacks were very rare up until recently when violence against police has skyrocketed in the US.
Their Widows And Children
Both officers left behind grieving wives and children whose lives will forever be changed. We must never concentrate on the attackers, but rather concentrate on the families of the victims. And it is very important that we follow the example we see in Israel every year on the day where we remember those who gave their lives for our country. And to support their loved ones they left behind. As I said before and I will say it again, we are all one family.
The killer of both officers Talley and Evans used tactics similar to those taking place in Israel by Palestinian terrorists who ram their vehicles into checkpoints and then jump out carrying knives in the case of Officer Evans. While Officer Talley charged at the gunman and gave his life saving many others.
But with regard to IDF Capt. Tamar Ariel, she lost her life when she traveled out of Israel – not in Israel which has been under constant threat of attack from our enemy across the border since Israel was established, and long before that. But the service she gave to her country prior to being killed, justifies her being given recognition as a fallen soldier.
Another interesting fact to remember is contained in a TOI story published on January 22:
“The number of fallen soldiers in 2019 is the lowest since the founding of the IDF,” Michel Yanko, chief of staff of the IDF Manpower Directorate, told reporters.
This should provide everyone food for thought as Israel now turns 73, and sees its security situation the best it has been for many years regarding its neighboring Arab countries. The statistics for 2020 will benefit from the COVID lockdown which kept the majority of Israelis in their homes for most of last year.
In contrast, chaos in many US cities is taking its toll all across the country. And many Americans are worried for the safety of their families and children.