You shall tell your son on that day, ‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ (Exodus 13:8)
The command “to tell” has its counterpart in the need “to remember”. Remember our history, remember that our enemies hate us because of where we are and who we are, remember why we’re here. Remember, God brought us out of Egypt to bring us into the land that He has chosen. Remember what God has accomplished through us in this tiny stretch of desert sand. Remember that freedom is not free, but costly. Remember those who paid the price with their lives so that we can continue to live.
Israel was established as a sovereign nation that rose from the ashes of the Holocaust. It is a resilient country, with a resilient people. Time after time, attempts were made to destroy us a nation, that the name of Israel would be no more (Psalm 83:4). But, “Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; The LORD of hosts is His name. ‘If this fixed order departs from before Me,’ declares the LORD, ‘Then the offspring of Israel also will cease From being a nation before Me forever’.” The point is clear: Israel will continue to live.” (Jeremiah 31:35-36)
Our nation anthem expresses the resolve, the longing, the hope and the anticipation of returning to the land of Zion and to Jerusalem, where we can be a free nation:
As long as in the heart within,
The Jewish soul yearns,
And toward the eastern edges, onward,
An eye gazes toward Zion.
Our hope is not yet lost,
The hope that is two-thousand years old,
To be a free nation in our land,
The Land of Zion and Jerusalem.
Remember the Holocaust, an attempt to kill off the Jews of Europe and then, those that remain in the world. This was not the first attempt. Our history is filled with failed attempts to destroy us as a people, attempts that continue until the present day.
The number of Holocaust survivors dwindles considerably each year and before too much longer, there won’t be any who remain alive. It is imperative to remember what happened, their stories of survival, of heroism, of the hatred that resulted in the deaths of 6 million Jews and millions of non-Jews. The numbers of Holocaust deniers grows larger each year. Truth dispels the lie and the remembrance and documentation of the Holocaust will always stand as a testimony to the fact that it was the darkest wart on the hide of human society in the 20th century.
In the same way, Memorial Day for the Fallen Soldiers of the Wars of Israel and Victims of Actions of Terrorism, is Israel’s official remembrance day, enacted into law in 1963. It is observed each year on the 4th day of the Hebrew month of Iyar and is always marked one day before Israel’s Independence Day. Each year, the number of fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism increases, rising this year to 24,068, of whom 56 were added during the past year.
The families of the fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism live with their memories every day. Their stories are told in documentaries, in interviews, in brief summaries of heroism and tragedy, even in songs and drama. Remember! It is the theme that permeates the stories shared over the various media. Remember the sons, the daughters, the husbands and fathers, the wives and mothers, the brothers and sisters, fiances, the childhood friends, the brothers-in-arms, the lone soldiers with no blood relations in Israel, the orphans who were born or who grew up without the tender touch and care of a fallen parent or sibling. Remember those who allow us to celebrate life, because theirs was forfeited on our behalf.
Tears seem never to end from flowing, as story follows story of heroism, self-sacrifice for family and comrades. We mourn with those who mourn. When the day is over, we rejoice with those who rejoice.
The flag that was lowered to half mast at the beginning of the day of remembrance last night was raised a few minutes ago to full mast at the beginning of Independence Day celebrations. The switch is imperceptible, but immediate. Sorrow turns to joy. Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5).
The restrictions brought about by the coronavirus have been removed. Masks are off. Public celebrations are once again permitted. Almost two and a half years have passed when the restrictions were first imposed. The streets are again filled with people.
Now, with the setting of the sun, Israel celebrates – publicly and openly. The nation dances, sings and proclaims to the world: Am Yisrael Chai! – The nation of Israel lives! The enemies who continue to try to dampen our spirit have lost.
Tonight, we begin our 74th year! Rejoice with us, celebrate with us, give thanks to the God of Israel, Whose Who stands behind His Word to perform it.
Blessed are Thou, O Lord our God, King of the World, Who has revived us, established us and allowed us to come to this time!
Bless, be blessed and be a blessing.