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Op-Ed: Honor Those Who Have Fallen

Yom HaZikaron leads into Yom HaAtzmaut.
Published: Monday, April 27, 2009 1:16 AM


Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day) in Israel is not just a day for Jews in Israel, but a day for all of our people. Many of us in Israel served and lost friends and family throughout the years; and once a year we think back and try to
We think back and try to remember the good times and smiles.
remember the good times and smiles that were shared, even as we realize the loss of the present.

I had the privilege and honor to be the Security Coordinator for the town of Shilo until 2006, years that included the last Intifada. Each Yom HaZikaron, as I drive the roads between memorial ceremonies, I recall the attacks and the victims. Many of those killed I only got to know after the fact. It was pretty much always the same story - people just like you and I, fathers, mothers, children, everyday people who simply were on their way to somewhere. The fact that we all shared a similar life was added motivation for me to, G-d willing, do the best I could as a security professional to keep people safe. I admit that, every year, I wonder if I could have done better, more; maybe someone else would have gotten home. This has always been the curse of those who work in security: What if I had...?

Despite the memories of loss and recollections of the many attacks that I experienced, and the "what ifs", I remember many "we dids" as well. I remember how many times we did get there in time to stop attacks, how we were able to return fire in time, to bring our neighbors home. How we stood up to those evil beings who found pleasure in targeting those who can't fight back, and we let them know just who we were. We grew stronger with every incident and our motivation only increased.

It was then the intent of our enemies, as it is today, to throw us out of our land. They used terror and fear as their main tool, and they were met with courage and dedication - two concepts that are foreign to their world. When our own government failed to crush the enemy threat, the government too was shown the same courage and dedication on our part, as we continued to grow and flourish.

A number of Jews from outside of Israel, who realized that this wasn't just our fight here in Israel, joined in making efforts to strengthen us and to be part of us. They were with us as we returned fire against the terrorists; they sat in the ambulances providing vital equipment; they brought kids to playgrounds; and comforted us in the sad times also - all this from thousands of miles away. We were (and are) one.

The outlook was supposed to be different, a future that had us deserting our heartland; however, by remaining strong and dedicated to each other, the results brought a different reality to our land and our people - the growth of our people in our land.
We learned from the past that we can take action that will have an effect, but we cannot do this alone.

Lately, we are seeing an increase in attacks, and we have had to bury more of our people. We in security are once again thinking, "What if we...? How can we...?" and so on. We learned from the past that we can take action that will have an effect, but we cannot do this alone; it must be done together. The same effort, dedication and courage that was displayed during the heat of battles and attacks must appear again, and it must appear before and not after the coming struggle. We must, G-d willing, prevent and not have the need to respond. We must celebrate and not mourn.

Yom HaZikaron is a time of reflection and memories, but it is also a time of learning and looking ahead. Yom HaZikaron leads into Yom HaAtzmaut, and these two days show the world that we are not the victims they would like us to be, that there are Jews who will stand up and fight. Let's take the lessons learned and give honor to those who have fallen by doing the best we can, together, to make sure everybody comes home and celebrates. No more, "What if I..." - it is a time to do.