As the people of Israel observe Yom HaZikaron - their Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and victims of terror - today, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave the following remarks at the official state ceremony:
A cloud of grief hangs over the State of Israel today. It always hangs over the families, the parents, the widows and partners, the brothers and sisters. Our loved ones fell in Israel’s battles in the line of duty, in battles and in brutal terror attacks.
Ever since the dagger of bereavement pierced our hearts, the course of our lives has been forever changed, but today we commemorate our mutual guarantee and shared fate, which connect all parts of the nation to the family of bereavement. This is the true source of our strength, and to a high degree unique to the State of Israel. It is our unique source of resilience and strength.
Together we bow our heads in memory of the 23,544 who fell in our nation’s battles and the thousands more who were killed by murderous terrorists. We are one people, and it is clear to all of us that were it not for the sacrifice of these men and women – we would not be free in our own land. In fact, we would not be here at all. It is thanks to them that we exist, thanks to them that we live.
This morning at Mount Herzl we inaugurated the new National Hall of Remembrance. It is a splendid building that commemorates all the fallen. I see it as an important symbol emphasizing the foundations of our existence in our land. I see it as an important symbol expressing the unity of bereavement. This small country is all we have – home and homeland, future and hope. Our roots were planted deep into this land thousands of years ago, and for generations we were loyal to it. We renewed our national sovereignty in this land seven decades ago.
The State of Israel is a miracle of history – in its rebirth and in its tremendous achievements. This miracle and these achievements are also especially notable given our ongoing resilience in the test of fire and blood. We stand as a fortified wall against our enemies. We do not show weakness. We do not loosen our grip from the weapons in our hands because we know that this is the only way to push back the thickets of evil that refuse to accept our existence. This is the only way we will achieve peace with those of our neighbors who want peace. At the same time, during this long campaign, we maintain our humanity. We just heard the tremendously moving stories of the fallen. One feels not only the loss, but also their humanity. Simultaneously, we maintain our democratic, free, vibrant and moral society. However, there is a heavy price for this – a personal price for you, the families, and a national price for all of us. We have experienced it personally, and you know: each family and its pain.
It is actually our loved ones who went to battle from whom we draw comfort. The wick of their lives was cut off in a moment, but the spark of the sense of mission that burned in them still glows. During the War of Independence, before he died, Zvi Guber wrote, “Can a lead bullet kill courage and purity of spirit?”
Sixty-nine years have passed and that purity of spirit has remained unchanged: Each generation and the magnificence of its spirit, each generation and the discovery of its strength. Brothers and sisters in the family of bereavement, you are the foundation of Israeli society. You raised exemplary sons and daughters, you instilled in them the values of man and nation, and you serve as a bridge between all sectors of Israeli society: Jews, Druze, Christians, Muslims, Bedouins, Circassians – citizens of Israel are profoundly grateful to you.
Together, we will continue to defend our land, protect it, build it. This is the true legacy of the fallen. The people of Israel hold its fallen soldiers in their hearts, and every day we pay them honor and wish them eternal glory.
May the memory of our children be forever blessed. We will remember them all forever.