Dear Friend of Israel,
Memorial Day in the U.S. can be a time of mixed feelings. On the one hand, it’s the unofficial beginning of summer. On the other hand, for those mourning the loss of a loved one in war there is a deep and personal sense of grief, mingled with pride for their service.
On Memorial Day, America honors its heroes. Across the U.S., people will gather to remember those who, in the immortal words of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, gave “the last full measure of their devotion” for the country they loved – ordinary people who showed extraordinary courage and sacrifice in times of crisis.
Other countries also set aside a day to remember those who fought and died in wars. In Israel, it’s Yom HaZikaron, or Israel Memorial Day, which this year was observed in April. On this day, the entire country observes two minutes of silence in honor of Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism.
These sorts of public observances instill in us a sense of gratitude for those who put their lives on the line so that we can live comfortably and safely. It is so easy for us to forget that our lives are built upon a foundation of God’s goodness and grace, as well as the blood, toil, and sacrifice of others. Memorial Day helps us remember that fact.
So, this weekend, as you enjoy the company of family and friends, take a moment to pray for all those grieving the loss of loved ones who died while serving their country. Ask God to strengthen those who mourn. Remember the soldiers who died defending the freedoms we all too often take for granted, as well as those who live with the physical and psychological wounds from their time of service.
Let us pray for the safety of those men and women of all nations who, even now, are standing at the front lines of the war on terror in dark and dangerous corners of the world. And let us pray for the day when God will bless all of us with His most precious gift of shalom, peace.
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein