(Communicated by President’s Spokeswoman)
The following is the speech that President Ezer Weizman delivered on Tuesday, April 12, 1994, at the ceremony for Memorial Day for the Fallen of Israel’s Wars:
At this holy place, opposite Mt. Herzl, the People of Israel mourn and remember their sons and daughters that fell in Israel’s wars: in the struggle for the establishment of the state and in the defensive wars on behalf of Israel’s security. 17,955 sons and daughters lost their lives in Israel’s wars, and during the continuing struggle between the wars. To our sorrow, in the most recent year of Israeli independence as well, there have been more bereaved families. The bereavement strikes at son and neighbor in many homes in the State of Israel. There is no home in Israel that does not share in the bereavement, it is a part of our daily lives and of our national experience as a people, which has returned to its Land after almost 2,000 years in exile.
But there is no pain like like that of parents who have lost their child, a wife who has lost her husband, or a child that has grown up without his or her father. The pain is great, it burns, and life is not like it was; there are no words of consolation, and an additional grave is dug in our hearts. The People of Israel will be forever united by the memory of its sons and daughters, whose death has bequeathed us life. We are one large family, and we will remember this as we stand here today, near the Western Wall, in the eyes of the parents, fathers and mothers, women, children, brothers and sisters.
We stand before important challenges and tests. We will remember that the State of Israel is stronger than any time in the past when there was no serious threat to our existence; the soldiers of the IDF and their commanders are the guarantors of peace and security. In the 46 years of the nation’s independence, and in the 112 years since the First Aliyah to the Land and the beginning of the Zionist enterprise, we have succeeded in changing the face of the Land: mountains have been made green, forests have been planted, communities have been established, industry has grown and the Land has flowered before our eyes. We have known threats and terrorist attacks, and we have withstood them. No murderous hand, no act of criminal, brutal and despicable terrorism will harm the security of the State; our spirit will not be undermined.
Today, we can be proud of our achievements. But we must remember the heavy price that has been paid by the lives of so many thousands. With their lives they defended the country; the ground soaked up their blood. Without them, without their lives, without the sacrifice of their deaths, without your sacrifice, your losses, and your pain, dear family members, we would not have reached the point where we can dream that the country will be quiet and peace will prevail within its borders.
We remember today that the IDF is the people’s army. We will take strict care to keep our sons and daughters [who serve in the IDF] out of all controversy; we will remove the question marks from over our soldiers heads, and we will see to it that the IDF is prepared and ready for the tasks of defense and security. Let no one undermine the IDF’s basic foundations, let no one harm military discipline, and let no one doubt the strength and stamina of the IDF as it stands guard [over the nation].
Dear family members, on this day the people are united with the memory of those who fell in Israel’s wars. On this Memorial Day when all Israel is united, we will remember and we will preserve the sacrifice of our dear ones and we will offer prayer to the Creator of the World.
Dear God, may You allow the Land to know tranquility, peace, and security; may You grant the parents who send their sons and daughters to serve the people and the nation to see their safe return; may You grant that parents not mourn their children with weeping; may You grant us to face the tests that lay before us with unity and love for Israel, and not with groundless hatred and may vain quarrels find no place in our hearts. Here, in this place, to which the prayers of all Jews in the world are directed, which was liberated with the blood of many [of our] children, before you, family members, I appeal to all of our country’s leaders, public figures, and citizens to preserve our unity, to speak every man to his brother, to not fight amongst ourselves, and to be forever vigilant.
And to you, dear family members, I quote the words of the Prophet Isaiah (66:13), ‘As one whom his mother comforts, so will I comfort you; And you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.’