Every year on Israel’s Memorial Day, a siren is twice sounded to call the nation to attention. Israelis of all stripes, from all walks of life and from a surprising variety of ethnicities, religions, and political affiliations, stand silently as one and remember their countrymen who paid the ultimate price to ensure the independence and security of Israel.
Because of the unfortunate frequency of wars and major military operations, many use the opportunity to remember a fallen soldier they knew personally – whether it be a spouse, child, parent, friend, or someone more distantly related. To Israelis, the notion of remembering is a personal one and not at all abstract.
However, to friends of Israel in the United States and elsewhere abroad, while the day is solemnly observed and respected, there is little in the way of a personal connection between them and those who the day is meant to commemorate. They yearn to stand side by side in remembering with the Israelis, who, while thousands of miles away, are close to them in their hearts. Yet, they have not felt the pain of sudden loss and bereavement and cannot imagine the feeling of picking up the phone or opening the door for an army official to hear the worst news imaginable.
How can they stand side by side with Israelis in solidarity and feel a personal connection to the tragically long list of Israel’s fallen defenders?
Ironically, as many search for a personal way to connect to Memorial Day, there are thousands of fallen soldiers who have left behind few, if any, family members and friends to keep their memory alive. From the Holocaust survivor who came to Israel to fight for independence and ended up buried in a mass grave, nameless and forgotten, to the loving husband who was killed decades ago, and whose wife has also long since passed, with nobody left who can light a candle to commemorate him – there are far too many heartbreaking stories like these.
These are two burning issues which Yashar LaChayal has brought together in order to simultaneously address both, as we approach Israel’s 70th Memorial Day. “Remembering Israel’s Fallen” is a project which will match each participant with one of the 23,550 men and women who fell in Israel’s defense, ensuring that not a single one is forgotten. As the siren wails in Israel, candles will be lit and prayers said not only there, but overseas as well, in a campaign of unity and remembrance.
Every participant will be emailed a certificate with the unique name of one of Israel’s fallen, and it will be his or her privilege to remember that soldier on Memorial Day. In order to join this meaningful campaign, we request a symbolic $18 donation that will go towards our “Bereaved Family Fund” which provides various forms of support to financially disadvantaged family members of fallen soldiers. In the past, we have sponsored grocery store credit, household appliances, furniture, and other types of assistance for bereaved families. With your help, we can provide them with even more support.
The best we can do for those who gave their all for Israel is to perpetuate their memories, and to take care of those they left behind. On Israel’s 70th Memorial Day, join us in doing our part for those who gave so much for us and for the State of Israel.