Paul Mirbach
Paul Mirbach

Memorial Day

On Sunday evening we lower our heads in memory and respect for those whose lives, like milestones, line the long path of the history of our homeland. Like cobble stones on this winding path, we feel their presence in every step we take as a nation. Every year, the faces of those I knew, like a slideshow pass before me in my imagination, and I am filled with an emptiness and a sadness, and sometimes I feel a bit guilty that I have these feelings, as if I didn’t know them well enough to be qualified to feel what I feel.  Throughout the day, I wonder how they would have lived their lives, had it not been for that one split second of fate. In 1990, in a training accident, I witnessed the untimely and senseless death of five of my comrades. To this day, I ponder the quirk of circumstance, that the mortar that fell not 100m from where I lay, took them and not me. This poem describes what I experience on this solemn day, Yom Hazikaron.

Memorial Day

The wind is brisk, the air has a bite,

The flag flutters freely, proud blue on white.

The silence a presence, against skies so blue,

The names stare back, they’re silent, too.

We gather, stand close, for comfort, I expect,

For these souls deserve our utmost respect.
Each one of us here has a face to remember,

A father, a son, a family member,

A friend, a comrade, someone we know,

We all come together in our national sorrow.

The battles they fought, the wars we won,

There is no grief more deep than to bury a son.


Brothers in arms, how straight you stand,

Rifles a-gleaming, arms brown and tanned.

Faces so solemn, shoulders so proud,

Attention! He calls, his voice sounds so loud.

Three cracks so sharp, then it echoes away,

A siren.

A stillness.

Memorial Day.

About the Author
Paul Mirbach (PEM), made aliya from South Africa to kibbutz Tuval in 1982 with a garin of Habonim members. Together they built a new kibbutz transforming rocks and mud into a green oasis in the Gallilee. He served in the infantry during his army service, serving in both Lebanon and the West Bank, including on reserve duty during the first intifada. Paul still lives on Tuval with his wife and two sons.