Today, when I left work, I immediately noticed that the Israeli flag I had perched on the rear window of my car, as is customary during this Memorial/Independance Day Season, was gone. I work in a chareidi (“ultra-orthodox”) city and one doesn’t see many flags in these cities. It’s just the way it is. But I was incensed to think that someone had taken my flag.
Why can’t you just love the country you live in?
Hours later, I found myself sitting at a ceremony commemorating the beginning of Memorial Day. At 8 p.m. the siren wailed and silence fell upon the huge crowd, as we stood at attention and paid our respects to honor 23,320 fallen. 23,320 whose lives were sacrificed so that Jews can live free in our own sovereign state. 23,320 families shattered by loss.
Every Memorial Day is difficult, but this one in particular brings back the still raw feelings of last summer, the kidnap and murder of our three boys, the rockets raining down on our cities, the sirens, the Iron Dome and the losses. So many losses.
In Modi’in, the city in which I live, we lost four:
Baruch Mizrachi, 47, a father of five killed in a terror attack near Hebron on April 14, 2014.
Dolev Keidar, 38, the commander of the Geffen Battalion, when he was killed in combat on July 21, 2014. He leaves behind three children.
Natan Cohen, 23, a Platoon Commander in the Armored Corps, was killed in combat on July 22, 2014. He was to be married in the Fall.
Almog Shiloni, 20, an IDF soldier in uniform was stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist while waiting for a train in Tel-Aviv.
My first reaction to my missing flag was anger. But then as I drove off, and turned on the radio only to hear a soldier being interviewed about his friend who fell last summer, I just felt…sad. Sad, that so many have died and given all there is to give, and there are people in this country who don’t respect that.
For me, it’s just so simple. I live here. I am forever grateful.
Tomorrow, Memorial Day, I will not go to work and stand for a siren that is ignored. Instead, I will visit the military ceremony in Modi’in, where once again I will stand at attention together with my fellow citizens throughout the land. I will say a silent prayer of thanks to the 23,320. I will sing HaTikva, our national anthem. Then I will walk over to the graves of the three murdered boys of the summer of 2014 and I will lay a stone there. And I will remember.
For me, it’s easy to love the country I live in.