Esther Wachsman, the mother of fallen IDF soldier Nachshon Wachsman spoke with Arutz Sheva in honor of Memorial Day.
"Every day, every moment, my child is missing. His place next to the table is empty. We celebrate the holidays without him, he doesn't participate in happy occasions," she said. "Days like Memorial Day are supremely important for the entire people and its unity and the general feeling - not only for the bereaved family. To me, my child is still missing and there is an emptiness around the Shabbat table."
Esther is comforted in the knowledge that four of her grandchildren are named after her son. "I have four grandchildren who bear his name. There's certainly happiness. There's pride and there is a purpose to life."
Every Memorial Day, Esther and her husband Yehuda meet with dozens of others at Nachshon's grave. "For the past 21 years we've gone up to his grave. All of his friends from school, scouts, the army, and the rescue operation. Every year they're there."
Nachshon Wachsman was kidnapped by Hamas in 1994 and was killed during a failed rescue attempt.
"When the kidnapping occurred, the entire nation followed what was going on. Every day, from morning until night. For six days everyone was poised to hear what was happening to the soldier. Even today strangers stop me on the street and tell me where they were on that Friday, when they heard the bitter news."
Esther also has a difficult message for Israel's 68th Independence Day, in light of Deputy IDF Chief of Staff Yair Golan's recent comment. "I came to this country 46 years ago, from the US. It's a rich country. I had all I could want there, and I can here for Zionist reasons. This is my homeland. This is where I wanted to have my home, my husband, and my children. This is where I want to live.
"When I hear, as just one examples, the Deputy Chief of Staff say what he said, it breaks my heart. I am afraid that we are not worthy of the country that we have received. That's how I feel. It pains me that a generation grew up here without knowing how to appreciate what it has."
"I grew up in the easy and comfortable diaspora, though I'm the daughter of a Holocaust survivor so I certainly grew up with a strong awareness. But I am burning with hate. It's a tremendous heartache to think that a generation may have grown up here without knowing it means to be a free people in our land."
Wachsman added that "This country is truly wonderful, with so much beauty. But when you see the news, read the papers and listen to the radio, you see the disgusting side of Israel.
"I work with groups like Shalva for children with special needs, and there are all sorts of wonderful organizations that do tremendous work for society, but you don't hear about that on the news. You only hear about the disgusting side of Israel. I'm sorry that's what I have to say today."