On Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s memorial day, a siren sounds at 11 a.m. Throughout the country, everything stops for two minutes. On the highways, cars pull over and people stand beside them, in homage to those who lost their lives creating the state and defending it. On the sidewalks, all activity comes to a momentary halt. In schools and offices, work is briefly suspended and everyone rises to his or her feet.
On Memorial Day in the United States, when we are supposed to pay tribute to “these honored dead,” to borrow from Abraham Lincoln, people flock to the malls for special sales, have outdoor barbecues, and cheer on their favorite ball clubs as they munch on hot dogs and down cold drinks in the nation’s stadia. In the media, Memorial Day is touted as “the official start of summer,” with only passing reference to the dead whose day it was meant to be.
In most communities, there are no sirens, just parades, and the laying of wreaths – outside the view of most people.
There is something wrong with that picture.
This Memorial Day, May 28, at 11 a.m., stop what you are doing for two minutes, stand silently, and think about the freedoms we enjoy because there are people who are prepared to lay down their lives so that we can enjoy ours.