It’s an interesting question and one that Israel answers each year. Aliza asked me the question a few moments ago as we were discussing our plans for the evening. A candle is burning in the window. I lit it last night in memory of the 22,993 soldiers and 2,477 terror victims who we mourn this year. Last night and this morning, air raid sirens sounded throughout the land, a call to stand in silence and remember.
And then – tonight – 24 hours after the first siren…the country will, in essence, pack away its sadness and celebration ceremonies – dancing, singing, and fireworks, will begin. Tomorrow, hundreds of thousands of us will go out for hikes, barbecues and picnics all over the land.
How can you be sad and then be happy? It is truly the essence of Israel. Before we can celebrate the freedom we have, the land that we have built, we need to remember, we need to be sad.
The day is winding down; the evening wind is coming in. Even if we wanted to hold on to today, we can’t. It is slipping away…it was a sad day, filled with stories of all that we have lost, all that could have been and won’t be. Each story is an agony, such pain…how can we be sad and then be happy?
It is a switch that happens each year – one I can never explain and yet I always feel. People are beginning to pack what they will take with them for the evening of celebrations – some candies, some drinks, a sweater. It goes in the backpack…and soon we will be sitting in the same park we sat in last night.
Only last night, I cried a little. I listened and tried to pray for my sons and for all our sons. And tonight, my thoughts will turn to the country I have made my own. Happy birthday, Israel – you are so amazing and I am so happy to live here.
It is a secret I whisper as the fireworks explode – it is me talking to my land – we celebrate you, we love you, we thank you. You are the only land that has ever been ours – and ours you will always be. We are yours. We are truly the only ones who have built you, made your deserts bloom. We are Israel – Israel always.
This is Israel – my beautiful country….