Absently present: We will not be at Yossi’s graveside this year
He was 22.
We visit him once a week. Sometimes more.
It has been 50 years. From 1973 to 2023.
On Tuesday, for the first time, we will not be at his grave.
Forgive us, Yossi.
Like you, we are out fighting for our country. This Memorial Day, we will be out in the streets again with our flags.
There is a frontal assault. It came suddenly, just like then. Except this time it was from within. The signs were there, just as they were then. It’s not that we ignored them, we grew used to the situation. We were asleep. The haves and have-nots. The secular and the religious. The contributors and the privileged. The liberals and messianists. The humanists and the ideologues.
The demographics. The oppression. The racism. The violence. The fake news, the lies, the corruption, the interests, the manipulations, the incitement, the polarization, the constant noise.
We thought it could go on forever. Separate from us. That the bad would retreat and that good would win.
We were wrong.
What a delicate thing this thing is, democracy. You think it’s a given. You take it for granted. You don’t even give it a second thought. Well, it’s not. It’s frail. And it’s tricky. It can be used, then abused. Turned around against itself. You see it happen elsewhere; you just can’t imagine it happening here.
Turns out it can.
It’s happening before our very eyes and suddenly, there’s nothing you can do. But hold a flag in the street and shout, block an intersection, threaten to not fulfill your civil duties. Peaceful resistance, imagine – us!
We won’t fall into the cliché. We feel that today you are with us more than ever, Yossi. Your absence is always deep within us, in every heartbeat, your absence, emptiness, an eternal pain. We are not at your graveside today, yet you are more alive in us than ever, and in our absence we are present – fight on your behalf to make sense of the most senseless loss.
Defending our nation’s soul.
* * *
I was just 17 when my beloved brother, Sgt. Yosef Garciani, z”l, fell in the Yom Kippur War in the bitter fighting west of the Suez Canal. Today, I am the only daughter of a 94-year-old mother, and myself a mother of three, a grandmother of four, and the wife of an Air Force pilot, a lieutenant colonel in the reserves. I work in architecture and interior design.
The terrible pain from 50 years ago has not been forgotten, not even for a moment. It is present and accompanies me and my family members every hour of every day. As my brother and I were educated, so are our children and grandchildren: loyal to the principles of morality and justice, ready to contribute, serve, help, volunteer, and take risks if necessary for the sake of the people and the nation.