Today is Yom HaAtzmaut, when we celebrate Israel’s independence and Ben Gurion’s declaration establishing the state of Israel.
Yom HaZikaron, where we remember our fallen soldiers, is the day before Yom HaAtzmaut. Israel is the only country I know that puts these two days together.
In Israel’s wars, 23,085 soldiers have died and there isn’t an individual or family in Israel that hasn’t lost a loved one or doesn’t knows someone who has lost someone. As throughout Israel we observe Yom HaZikaron I think every parent, at some point, thinks about their children serving in the Israel Defence Forces.
Four of our children serve in the IDF, our oldest is serving for 6 years as an officer in Intelligence and 3 serve in combat units. As part of their training, the three did the paratroopers course and jumped from a Hercules transport plane, parachuting onto the sands at Palmachim. When your child does his first jump, it’s a tradition for families to drive to Palmachim to be there when he lands.
The sand, is swept all the way from Nubia in Africa, down the Nile river and then along the Mediterranean coast to Israel’s beaches.
While at the beach at Palmachim I noticed a very striking, white flowering plant, the Sand Lily (Pancratium maritimum), also known as the sea daffodil. The Hebrew name for the flower is חבצלת החוף which most people think is the flower mentioned in Song of Songs 2:1 I am the rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys, the Sharon plain being on the Mediterranean coast. The flowers have a pleasing, exotic and very subtle lily scent, which you only notice during still, windless summer nights. Interestingly, the plant must be cross-pollinated by a specific hawk-moth (Agrius convolvuli) which only visits the flower when there is a light breeze, a wind speed under 2 metres per second. Sprinkled on the sand around the plants were its flat, black seeds which I collected.
The seeds have just sprouted in our garden in Jerusalem. Hopefully they will grow and bloom in about 4 years, at about the same time our youngest completes his army service.
Nice post Shmuel — simultaneously personal and expansive. I especially liked the photo of the parachutes, and imagining your boys floating down to the sand, adrenaline pumping for everyone in your family.
One of my favorites as well — as Gary says, bringing the national right down to the personal. America might be much more reluctant to send troops around the world if families of all economic and social classes included someone in the armed forces.