Today was Memorial Day in Israel. It’s one of the hardest days of the year for me. I remember our fallen soldiers, our victims of terrorist attacks, the heavy price of independence, and I mourn, along with all my fellow Israelis. I know it’s hard for people outside of Israel to understand the extent of our mourning, because it is hard for those from larger nations to comprehend a nation so small that everyone is barely two degrees away from anyone else. Everyone here has lost someone in a war, in a terrorist attack, or both. And as we are always portrayed in the media as the aggressors, land thieves and child killers, it is hard for anyone outside to understand just how deeply we want to beat our swords into plowshares and know no more war. We aren’t pacifists. We will fight evil until the end. We just wish that evil would finally give up so that we can all go sit under our grapevines, thankyouverymuch.
And now it’s Independence Day, which began tonight, and I always enter it emotionally exhausted from Memorial Day. Memorial Day for me is spent reliving the Second Lebanon War. The war Cloud Man served in. The month long war that I spent wondering, did he not answer his cell phone because he’s too busy? Or because he never will again?
That month-long war was the most horrible month of my life, and yet I know full well that I am blessed. Cloud Man, like most of the others, came home. Most. There’s so much pain behind that word. So much loss. And that was just one war, a “small” one, one in which most of the country was able to maintain their normal lives, and I clung to that normalcy like a lifebuoy.
As I am working through the memories, suddenly, it’s Independence Day, the 63rd one, and the whole country has gone manic with celebration. Of course, I joined. I have the amazing privilege doing my very little bit in building our imperfect, struggling, crazy little society. One in which a toddler has her first taste of fireworks and cotton candy celebrating independence in the land that her great grandparents could only dream of.
It’s an honor.
Happy Independence Day.