01 May '17..
The sharp transition from Memorial Day for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism to the fireworks and dancing of Independence day festivities is at times overwhelming. The tears of grief have yet to dry and already an entire nation is out celebrating in multitudes.
In Nathan Alterman's poem "Images of Faces," which concludes his work "Songs of the City of the Dove," he wrote, "Not in peace, but in steel you were forged / not in sword, but in shovel you endlessly sought to rise. / But life and death are an inseparable pair." Indeed, Israel's Memorial Day and Independence Day are inextricably intertwined.
On the 69th Independence Day of a country that rose from dust and ashes and the storms of war, it is possible obtain some kind of historical perspective that permits an extraordinary sense of pride for our country's achievements. There is no other country in the world whose citizens succeeded in less than 70 years to transform it into a global power in every sphere of life -- in science, economy, culture, technology and military.
One needs many tomes to cover Israel's long list of accomplishments. Older countries, whose population is dozens and hundreds of times larger than our own, have been dumbfounded by the achievements of our tiny country on the fringes of the Middle East -- a country whose people were forced to hold a sword in one hand, and realize a vision and redeem a nation in the other.
As a boy, I remember days when I stood with my father to buy ice for old refrigerators; food was rationed; meat was considered a luxury; a trip abroad was a dream; and traveling to Jerusalem in the winding roads was considered an annual trip. On the eve of the 1967 Six-Day War we went out to dig trenches in Tel Aviv. Gan Meir park, which used to be our playground, was designated as a temporary cemetery and many Israelis wanted to know who would be the last one standing once the conflict's dust settles.
Exactly 50 years ago, Jewish history changed its course and a dream fostered for generations came true: Jerusalem was united for all eternity. We returned to the land of our fathers; a trip abroad is no longer a luxury reserved only for the wealthiest; the grocery stores are packed with the best of the land, and there is no shortage of anything.
According to the 2017 World Happiness Report, Israelis rank among the healthiest and happiest people in the world; they love their country and are appreciative of the security, abundance and all the good this country provides them.
But the vision has yet to be fully realized, as the spirit of national unity has yet to be built. The noble task of building an exemplary society that cares for the welfare of the weak has not yet taken place, but we are certainly on the right track. This coming Independence Day, let's forget, for just one day, the drawbacks and pitfalls and rejoice. Let's look to the sky with pride, be thankful for our good fortune and proclaim loudly that the sacred platter on which our country was given to us is more radiant than ever.
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