The Israeli military is placing 24,068 flags on the gravestones of soldiers, police officers, and other security forces who fell in the line of duty ahead of Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day).
The day of remembrance honors those who died in service of the State of Israel and the pre-state Zionist movement from 1860 until today.
Speaking at the annual “Flag for the Fallen” ceremony at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl, Aryeh Mualem, who heads the Defense Ministry’s Department of Families, Commemoration, and Heritage, said the placing of flags on graves nationwide “is equal to placing a very important understanding into the hearts of the bereaved families.”
“During the laying of the flag, the nation stands in silence next to each grave — whether a private, lieutenant colonel, brigadier general, superintendent, or warden,” he said. “Next to those who fell in service and those who fell in combat, because we do not forget them, and we will never forget them.”
After the ceremony, the Israeli flag, a flower, and a memorial candle are placed on each grave in the lead up to Memorial Day, known as Yom HaZikaron, which commences with a minute-long memorial siren nationwide.
IDF Chief Staff Aviv Kochavi, who spoke at the ceremony, observed that Israel’s fallen are remembered “on many occasions: When we return to carry out operational activities in the areas in which they fell, when we review combat analysis, in our professional learning sessions, when we enter the memorial rooms of each unit, and every year on the day in which our sons and daughters fell.”
“However, this day calls on all of the people of Israel to unite in solidarity and in memory,” he continued. “This day slows the pace of the daily routine and makes time for all Israeli civilians to stop and think, to think of those who fell and about you [their families], to stop and partake in the constant pain you feel.”
Over the past year, 56 Israeli soldiers and security personnel have died in service, according to the Defense Ministry, while 84 handicapped IDF veterans perished from their disabilities or medical complications.
“The fighting spirit and quality of the people have always been the IDF’s main asset, and will remain the most influential element in the virtue and ability to fight,” Kohavi remarked. “In line with values and solidarity, we must care for those harmed and their unique needs, and return the captives and the missing home and to their families.”