Remembering The Fallen
By Yitzy Nadoff
We are pleased to share the inspiring words of Yitzy Nadoff, a former lone soldier, which he shared as part of our Yom HaZikaron ceremony. While we may only have one day dedicated to remembering Israel's fallen, these heroes remain in our hearts and minds constantly.
Yom Hazikaron is a day of remembrance, a day to think about the people who made the ultimate sacrifice, the soldiers who have fallen in battle and civilians who were murdered by the very terror those soldiers work so hard to prevent.
As we join together today, I ask you - What is the value of remembering? And, if we can't all feel some sort of attachment to it ourselves, especially from a distance, what is it that we are expected to remember? And if we know none of the more than 23,000 people we honor on this day, how can we grasp the personal sacrifice and how it makes us feel?
One year ago, I was in Israel on this day, and I was a lone soldier on base. We were having a ceremony and afterward they brought out the flame. Two soldiers stood at the sides of it and didn't move a muscle. It was obvious to all of us what was on their minds, where their thoughts were, for it was impossible at such a moment not to think of the ones who have walked before us, who gave their lives in defense of the nation, for our people.
That night I wrote something that is so true I'll never forget it:
He stands there year after year.
They bring him out.
Two stand near him, as he flickers and sways in the wind.
They stand absolutely still.
They stand in silence.
The faces switch every ten minutes but the thoughts remain the same.
They are remembering those who have fallen, the sons and fathers, the daughters and mothers, who have given up their lives so that others may live and play yet another day.
The soldiers who walk on walk knowing their past, in whose footsteps they are following.
They will give all they can and if the need comes they too will be remembered.
By the two soldiers, different faces, thoughts remaining the same.
They are watchmen, sentries of the light.
It takes a certain type of person to say, “Okay, I'll answer the call. I'll do what it takes and, if it comes down to it, yes, I will give up my life in defense of something I feel so strongly about, in defense of the people I love.
Each Chayal in their own right is a person worth knowing, with a life story they can share, friends they have lost in battle or in terror attacks. Tonight I would like to speak about the few - the lone soldiers. They are the ones that answer the call without having to. They are the ones that pick themselves up and move across the world in order to answer something that their heart is telling them. And I can tell you, it is a very hard journey to make on their own. To pick yourself up and move to a foreign country is hard enough in it's own right, complicated by the fact that they don't have any connections there, they sometimes don't know anyone, and in most cases do not speak the language. The obstacles are many, but the drive and the commitment pushes us forward.
On August 1st 2006 during the second Lebanon war a lone soldier named Michael Levin fell in battle. I was once with my unit on Mount Herzl and I passed by his grave. I stopped there for a minute and thought to myself, “He did it, he made the sacrifice. He was a lone soldier who went back even though he didn't have to and fought to be able to serve on the front lines.”
In his memory we look forward.
Many of you may know the story of Roe Klein. On July 26 2006 Roe, a 30 year old major in the Golani Brigade jumped on a grenade that was thrown by Hezbollah fighters. He jumped on the grenade to save his men that were there.
In his memory we look forward.
On July 26 2006 sergeant Asaf Namer, an Australian citizen, was 26 when he fell in battle during the second Lebanon war along with 7 others.
In their memory we look forward.
It is because of the sacrifice of our soldiers that Jews have a place they call home. A place where they can live freely. A place where their identity as Jews is intrinsically tied to their nationality as Israelis. A place where Jews like myself can come from other places in the world and join the ranks of soldiers to fight for Jewish life, Jewish dignity, and Jewish survival.
Remember the fallen so they won't become the forgotten and please remember the lone soldiers who are out there right now giving it all they have to offer. Just as we remember everyone who is no longer with us, we also have to look to the future to the ones who are there now and the ones who will come. As you get ready to leave tonight or even before you go to bed, stop and think about those who are out there, giving it their best in hope of a better, safer county. Thank you.