This year’s Memorial Day for Fallen soldiers will commemorate the 23,196 soldiers who have died since 1860. Since last year’s Memorial Day on April 15, 2013, 57 soldiers and 50 disabled veterans died.
IDF soldiers ahead of Memorial Day – Photo: Yehoshua Yosef
According to Defense Ministry for 2014, there are 17,038 bereaved family members, including 2,141 orphans and 4,966 widows of fallen Israel Defense Forces soldiers and security agents. Eighty-seven percent of bereaved parents and 74% of widows are more than 60 years old.
According to National Insurance Institute data published in advance of Memorial Day, 2,495 civilians have been killed in terror attacks since the end of the Independence War on Jan. 1, 1950. Since last Independence Day, two civilians were killed in such attacks. From the beginning of the Second Intifada in 2000 until today, 996 civilians were murdered in terror attacks.
Terror attacks have left 2,853 children without a parent, 99 of whom lost both parents. There are 978 widows and widowers as a result of terror attacks, and 800 bereaved parents.
This year marks the fifth year that the Knesset will hold a joint commemoration ceremony for fallen soldiers and terror attack victims on the eve of Memorial Day. The event, called “Songs in their Memory,” will take place on Sunday evening and will include Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Social Services Minister Meir Cohen, Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino, IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot and National Insurance Institute Director-General Shlomo Mor-Yosef.
The state memorial ceremony will take place on Monday afternoon on Mount Herzl beside the monument in memory of terror victims. The ceremony will be attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres, Edelstein, Mor-Yosef, IDF Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Benny Gantz and Supreme Court Chief Justice Asher Grunis.
On Sunday evening at 8:00 p.m., a minute-long siren will be sounded throughout the country signaling the beginning of Memorial Day. At 11:00 on Monday, a two-minute-long siren will be sounded before state memorial ceremonies begin.
Each Memorial Day, there are typically three state ceremonies: a candlelighting ceremony, the laying of flowers on the graves of the fallen and the laying of Israeli flags with a black ribbon attached to them on each grave.
The Families and Commemoration Department at the Defense Ministry is preparing for some 1.5 million people to arrive at military cemeteries throughout the country. A new Israeli application called “We will Remember Everyone” will allow visitors to navigate through the military cemetery on Mount Herzl and to receive information about the fallen soldiers buried there by scanning the gravestone. The application is part of an initiative called “Memorialize.”
The initiative, including the idea and execution of the application, was done as a volunteer project by David Ansbacher, CEO of Otzarot, a company that specializes in educational tourism using innovative technology.
On Thursday evening at an event for bereaved families called “Life Afterwards,” in which people showcased art that they created as a way to deal with loss, Ya’alon said, “This exhibition gives us a glimpse of a unique and touching way to deal.”
Peres met with the head of the Families and Commemoration Department at the Defense Ministry, Aryeh Moalem, Yad Labanim Chairman Eli Ben-Shem and Bereaved Families representatives ahead of Memorial Day. One representative said, “Israeli children do not know stories of heroism from the war.” To which Peres responded, saying, “The heroes of Israel’s wars endangered their lives to defend the nation, and we must remember them for the good of our country.”
View original Israel Hayom publication at: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=17227