Today is Yom Hazikaron.
I have watched social media buzzing about it and as the sister of a US Army soldier something really stood out to me this year – Israelis (even those who no longer live in Israel) and many Anglo Jews take this day seriously. This is such a stark contrast to Memorial Day here in the US, which many people take to be the start of BBQ season with no regard for the meaning for the day off.
Israeli sirens were sounded twice and during each of these moments, everything stopped. Traffic, radio, conversations – everything. When life resumes, I am told there is a different feeling in the air which permeates for the entire day. People are somber and reflective. Radio stations play songs which convey the mood. Places of entertainment are closed. (And afterwards, they run into the arms of the country to celebrate its very existence on Yom Haatzmaut.)
In a little over a month, America will celebrate Memorial Day, and few people will take moments of silence or recognize the day. They will celebrate the day off work, not commemorate the reason why.
While I understand that the compulsary service in Israel creates an entire country in which people are activly engaged in the military and are more likely to know someone who has died in service to the country. I do not understand how not having that makes it ok to check out of recognizing the lives lost for your freedom. I think the US should really take a moment to learn from the Israelis about how to remember.
In the meantime, I urge us all to take a personal moment of silence today in honor of all those who have lost their lives fighting for Israel, or by being bystanders to those who fight against it.