Intense would be the most accurate word to describe last night.
I sat in the pit of the Latrun amphitheater surrounded by a number of people. Closest to me were the family of the bereaved; families who have lost their sweet children. Their sweet children (and yes they are just children when they enter the army, boys and girls of 18 years) gave their lives protecting and serving the State of Israel. Beyond that were thousands of my Masa participants, many experiencing Yom Hazikaron, Israel's Memorial Day to honor fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism, on Israeli soil for the first time.
We sat together as figures of the Jewish world spoke, music was played, and photos of their proud faces flashed on the screen. Proud faces, because they were proud people. Proud to serve Israel, protect its people from the many threats against it.
We are proud of them too. But we are also sad. We are sad because they were taken from us doing something so good, something so honorable. We ask "How can souls so generous lose in the fickle game of life?". It is not fair. They were the good ones. They are the heroes, and in the movies the hero always wins, right? Well this is not the movies, my friends. This is our reality.
Needless to say unstoppable tears streamed down my face. I gasped for air with each new face on the screen as one thought swirled through my mind: I am only able to be here because of them.
Today the government estimates that more than a million people will visit 52 cemeteries throughout the nation. The rest of us will sit in our places of work, or in our homes, and remember each and every one of these lives lost for us.
It is too true here in Israel--We live for each other, and we die for each other as well. There are no sales here because life is priceless. Memorial Day is for remembering, even though it can be one of the hardest things for us to do.
Today I hope my words may have caused you to shed even a single tear of sadness for the fallen, heroes each and every one of them, and tomorrow I promise to make you cry tears of joy, because the people of Israel live.