On Sunday I got on a bus and made my way to Afula, a small town in Emek Izrael, a valley in the North. My grandma lives there and I love my grandma.

Sunday evening was the beginning of Israel’s Memorial Day for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism. Throughout the country, people were getting ready for the ceremonies. This was my first time in a ceremony outside my hometown. It was an opportunity to get to know other faces of soldiers who sacrificed their lives for us, from the Independence War until today. 133 of Afula’s sons and daughters fell while protecting our country. 23,544 fell throughout the country during 69 years of Israel’s existence.

We stood for a minute of silence at 8 p.m. Showed them our respect. Then the ceremony started and we heard their stories, met their faces, sung their songs and most importantly, met their families and hugged them. They were not the only ones sacrificing something. Their families, their moms and dads and sisters and brothers and grandmas and grandpas – they all sacrificed them, not necessarily willingly. They lost them forever.

24 hours after we remember, 24 hours after we cry and put the bouquets beside the wall with their names, we celebrate our independence. Most of our soldiers fell during the Independence War, more than 3,500! How can we rise from the sadness and grief of Memorial Day to the joy and pride of Independence Day? Well, I guess we all know that our fallen soldiers would have wanted us to celebrate another Independence Day. After all, that’s why they served. They wanted to make sure Israel will get another year.

69 years of Independence. The flags are fluttering on the cars and porches, the sky is filled with fireworks, kids are running along the streets, laughing, families are planning a day out in the nature and we are all hoping. Hoping that next year, when Israel turns 70, we won’t see any new faces on the Wall of Remembrance.
You can see the number of casualties in the different wars here (the numbers include citizens and soldiers).
Yours, 
Lior
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