We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Though America has been at war for the last decade, the size of our standing army is such that most of us don’t know anyone serving in Afghanistan or Iraq, let alone someone who died there. By contrast, Israel is a small country that has been at war for every day of its existence and most people there serve in the military or perform national service after high school. Most men then do time in the reserves. It seems as if everyone there either has lost a relative or knows someone who has. The price that has been paid for Israel’s survival against the odds is measured in the long rows of soldiers’ graves to which families journey to this day. Perhaps after the Civil War, from which our Memorial Day derives, or during subsequent mass conflicts, Americans felt about the day the way Israelis do now but that understanding has clearly been lost.
Too harsh, I think. But, for too many of us the connection between our freedoms and those who fought for them and gave the ultimate has been lost. Not for these Israeli young people, waving their flag for freedom.
Happy 63rd birthday, Israel, and happier ones to come, please dear G-d.
Shalom from Israel - where we just got back from our Independence Day BBQ.
The proximity of Memorial Day and Independence day generates incredible synergy - psychological, emotional, political.
About 36 hours ago the entire nation stopped for a minute of silence as sirens rang out - cars pulled over on the highways and people stood at attention.
Last night - fireworks, schoolkids performing patriotic skits, large cities mounting fireworks and star-studded festivals on the Mediterranean waterfront.
The most amazing thing is the radio - the programmers somehow make the transition from "soldier songs" of war and loss (unfortunately as still-relevant genre), through nostalgic songs about Israel, finishing today with live broadcast of the international Bible quiz, and programming that sets aside international pop for the cornucopia that is Israeli music (we wrote most of America's songbook too, didn't we?). On one station, each hour is devoted to a playlist selected by a different army unit.
I don't listen to the radio at work, but I do on Memorial day - as I watch my Israeli coworkers slip out after lunch to attend memorial services for their army units. It's not just to hear the gorgeous old songs with their unabashedly pastoral Zionism - new folk songs for a very old folk. The musical transition over the course of the day captures perfectly the kaleidoscope of thoughts and feelings in these two days.