Memorial Day, for real

My connection to Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s memorial day, is well-established. I was born into its communal observance in Israel, I have observed it personally since the loss of two friends from my battalion, and I have been bringing the communal and personal together in San Diego for 15 years as the MC of the community Yom Hazikaron ceremony.

The observance of Memorial Day in the United States as the “official beginning of summer” or just another reason to have a mattress or car sale has always bugged me, but I thought I’d been noticing a difference over the last several years, what with two very visible wars and the casualties they brought.

Until this year, though (until yesterday, in fact), I didn’t know that there is a National Moment of Remembrance in the US, intended to bring the entire country together in remembering those who’ve fallen in defense of the nation. I was made aware of this by this NPR story:
This of course is reminiscent to me and anyone else who’s experienced it of how virtually the entire state of Israel comes to a halt on the eve and the morning of Yom Hazikaron, with the sounding of the sirens, to remember its fallen:

So it was that at 3 PM Pacific yesterday, after we returned from a very pleasant weekend spent out of town with family and friends, I sat my three children down for a brief talk about the real meaning of this day, after which we stood silently and watched and listened as Taps was played at Arlington Cemetery:

I am humbled before all those who have died defending this nation and its citizens. May their memories always be a blessing.