Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism
Today’s Text: Psalm 9:12-13
SEASONS: Yom Hazikaron
Simultaneously, flags are lowered to half-staff, all activity ceases and traffic on roadways comes to a standstill. Air raid sirens prompt two minutes of silence. Yom Hazikaron—Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism—begins at sundown in Israel.
On the eve of the 2nd of Iyar, Israelis stand in silence to honor the memory of the 23,645 brave men and women who’ve given their lives in defense of the State of Israel. Yom Hazikaron is described by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as “a day of collective and personal anguish mingled with honor for the fallen.”(1)
At 11:00 A.M. on the 3rd of Iyar, a second siren sounds prior to the National Memorial Ceremony that is followed by memorial services throughout the nation. A passage from the Psalms is read in honor of the soldiers who gave their lives defending the State of Israel:
PSALM 9:12-13 (JPS TANAKH)
“Sing a hymn to the Lord, who reigns in Zion, declare His deeds among the peoples.
For He does not ignore the cry of the afflicted; He who requites bloodshed is mindful of them.”
Israelis well know the sacrifice of military service. In the last year, 71 soldiers lost their lives and 30 more subsequently died of their injuries. Twelve civilians also perished in heinous terrorist attacks.
Fervently committed to being worthy of the sacrifice others have made in the nation’s seemingly unending battle for survival, Yom Hazikaron is a day when citizens rededicate themselves to the defense and security of the State of Israel.
Similar in connotation to the poppies of Flanders Fields, the Red Everlasting (Helichrysum sanguineum) that grows in Israel adds a unique dimension to Yom Hazikaron. Locals call the little flower Dam HaMaccabim which literally means “the blood of the Maccabees.” Unlike other spring flowers that quickly bloom and fade, this small pinecone-shaped flower retains a blood-red color for five or six weeks.
Dam HaMaccabim memorializes the spirit of the brave souls willing to fight against overwhelming odds for the sake of freedom. Some suggest that the red flower only grows where blood has been spilled in Israel’s defense. Sadly there are few places in Israel where blood has not been shed in defense of the ancient homeland of the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
As the sun sets on Yom Hazikaron, a central Remembrance Torch lighting ceremony takes place at Mount Herzl cemetery where Zionist visionary Theodore Herzl, Israeli dignitaries and fallen soldiers are buried. During the ceremony, citizens from all walks of life light twelve torches representing the tribes of Israel. As the torches are set ablaze, the fallen are remembered:
“We light this remembrance torch as a symbol, to honor all the heroes and heroines; the partisan groups, the ghetto fighters and the underground defenders, the innocent victims of terror attacks, and those who fought in the wars to defend the State of Israel since its establishment, in 1948.”
That Yom Hazikaron is symbolically linked to the celebration of Yom Haatzmaut (Israel’s Independence Day) 24 hours later is no coincidence. The timing underscores the extreme courage and valor of the Jewish people who now enjoy freedom rebirthed through sacrifice.
Israel’s modern rebirth was greeted with the invasion of five armies who confidently boasted they would quickly wipe Israel off the map. At a press conference in Cairo, shortly after Israel declared statehood on May 14, 1948, Secretary-General of the Arab League Azzam Pasha declared, “This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades.” (2) With God’s help, Israel prevailed.
In two subsequent annihilation attempts including the Six-Day war in 1967 and the Yom Kippur War in 1973, Israel again miraculously emerged victorious. For seven decades, Israel has not merely survived, but thrives in the ancient homeland of the patriarchs much to the astonishment of surrounding enemies.
Charles E. McCracken is an international Bible teacher, long-time friend of Israel and advocate for the Jewish people. Rev. McCracken authentically communicates biblical truth making his presentations relevant for those seeking to understand the significance of Israel and the church in Bible prophecy. He staunchly supports the nation of Israel and the Jewish people’s right to exist and live in peace.
© Charles E. McCracken 2018, devotional comments only. Repost/Reprint with permission from the author via Contact Form under ABOUT. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved. (Emphasis added).
1) “Israel Celebrates 68 Years of Independence,” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
2) Hertz, Eli E., “So, Who is the Arab League?”, Arutz Sheva 7, March 28, 2014
1) Dam Hamaccabim. By Ester Inbar, commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:ST, via Wikimedia Commons – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios
2) The Remembrance Torch shines in the Western Wall Plaza. By RonAlmog from Israel (ישראל) (אבוקת הזיכרון) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios