Ahiya Klein, the IDF soldier who nearly lost his sight in a clash with terrorists in Gaza, spoke on Sunday at a ceremony in honor of Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day) which took place at the Sultan’s Pool in Jerusalem.
During the ceremony, Klein gave an inspiring speech as he spoke about the ordeal he had undergone.
"Even today, I have been given the opportunity, despite being handicapped, to serve as an officer in the IDF,” he said. “As time goes by I get to know other people who do wonderful things. I can stand here today and say that I'm happy. I am satisfied by my life and the people around me. I know that in the future there will be more crises, but even then I will continue to feel optimistic.”
Klein continued, “The most important thing I learned is always to move forward, no matter how hard or impossible the situation seems to be. There's always a way to go forward, there is always something worth fighting for. My message to all the fighters and all of Israel is: Always move forward.”
Klein’s relatively fast recovery was described as a miracle by his family when, only a month after losing his sight, he was able to return home for Hanukkah and light the candles with his family.
Also speaking at Sunday evening’s ceremony was Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett, who spoke of the contribution of all sectors of Israeli society to the IDF.
"Memorial Day is not a day that belongs to only one sector. The heroic courage and fighting spirit across sectors are a unifying factor for all the residents of Israel. This goes for all the IDF units, including the unit in which I served, Sayeret Matkal," said Bennett as he told the stories of two Druze soldiers, one of whom was killed during a training exercise.
“These are just two of the great Druze fighters who defended the State of Israel with their lives,” he said. “Two of the many brave heroes with whom we have a close alliance, in life and in death. Our Druze brothers, we love you.”
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said at the memorial ceremony, “For me, Memorial Day is the a commandment to work towards the development and promotion of Jerusalem. This is what the fallen soldiers fought for. An event like this at the foot of the Old City is the realization of their dream.”