The State of Israel celebrates Yom Ha’Zikaron, a memorial day for fallen soldiers and victims of terror, and Yom Ha’Atzma’ut, a joyous reminder of independence, consecutively: Yom Ha’Zikaron occurs first, followed by Yom Ha’Atzma’ut. The two holidays, both equally important to Israel and Israelis, are not separated; one transitions seamlessly to the other at sundown.
It may seem strange to expect observers of Yom Ha’Zikaron to change so quickly from somer contemplation to elated exultation, but a closer examination of the necessity of doing so reveals the underlying reasoning behind a memorial day positioned directly before an independence day.
Golda Meir said, “It is true we have won all our wars, but we have paid for them. We don’t want victories anymore.” In these statements, Golda Meir reveals the duality of these two occasions. Without sacrifice, the State of Israel would not exist; this truth is as true today as it was when the Independence War was at hand. It is therefore only natural to mourn those whose lives have been taken, both for the preservation as well as the sheer existence of the State of Israel, before celebrating the independence made possible as a direct result.
The duality of these two occasions takes on a special meaning this year in Boston; as we consider sacrifice and celebration, our minds and hearts are with those affected by the events that took place at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, a scene that should have been celebratory and that instead became tragic. We remember the fallen soldiers and the victims of terror in both Israel and the United States, even as we celebrate the pride and patriotism inherent in both nations.
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