Israel’s Memorial Day Begins with Sirens and Inspiration

Sirens sounded all over Israel at 8 p.m. on Monday, ushering in Memorial Day, a solemn 24-hour observance that will be followed Wednesday by the festivities marking the 41st anniversary of independence.

As usual, the nation’s leaders urged the populace to draw inspiration from those who died in battle.

According to official figures released this week, Israel lost 16,740 soldiers and other security personnel to enemy action in the four decades of its existence. Almost 52,000 have been disabled.

Addressing bereaved families, Cabinet minister and ranking military officers sought to inspire and comfort. Israelis were asked to “persevere resolutely in the ongoing fight for survival and security.”

Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, speaking at the Yad Lebanim Israel Defense Force Memorial, declared. “In the 41st year of our independence, we must still fight — even in Jerusalem, our capital.

“Arab terrorism has reached new peaks of violence and murder,” said Shamir, “and the struggle along the northern border continues to take a precious toll.”

Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin assured grieving parents of fallen soldiers that Israel “takes perhaps greater care than any state on earth” when it comes to risking the lives of its fighting men.

“Here in the military cemeteries,” he added, “all political arguments cease, and we are united.”

Sirens were to sound again at 11 a.m. on Tuesday to mark the solemn day.

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