The day is not just about standing silent for one minute during the memorial siren or about taking part in somber commemorations. For many, it is about remembering those who are dear to them, and the Internet is continuing to help them do that.
Virtual memorial sites serve as dynamic, virtual tombstones that people can visit and leave heartfelt messages. They also allow for the expression of thoughts that aren’t scripted for public ceremonies.
Yoram Kaniuk best illustrated this type of mourning when he wrote on the Education Ministry’s website about the duty to remember the dead, “their faces, their bodies, their last painful moments, the betrayal of life, the propaganda of honor, the shell or the mine, the perfect sky, the twisted words that, amazingly, are said in their name.”
Sadness and pride
In Israel, Memorial Day is marked first, and then festivities for Independence Day commence that very evening. How did this abrupt duality come about, this mixing of sadness and happiness, bereavement and pride, that is connected to the memorial of men, women and youngsters who are not here with us?
Until 1951, the third year of the Jewish state’s existence, Israel mourned its fallen troops on Independence Day. However, bereaved families felt their loved ones should be commemorated on a separate day on their own, and the day right before Independence Day was chosen, showcasing the principle “In death, they commanded us to live,” as the poet Bialik once put it.
This same principle was used to name communities and various sites after those who were killed. And despite the fact that these long-gone fighters do not seem connected to our daily lives, we remember them because their relatives and friends are found behind every hill and in almost every home.
Collective and personal sites
One site commemorates Matan Shimon Beiderman (Hebrew), who was killed in 2002 in Gaza. Family members talk about Matan and publish excerpts from his diary.
Staff Sergeant Yaakov "Kobi" Naim (Hebrew) was killed in 2003 in a clash with Palestinian terrorists in the Hebron area. His parents and two sisters set up a site in his memory, encouraging visitors to contribute writings and songs.
What about terror victims?
After emotional and legal battles, a decision was made years ago that Memorial Day would commemorate both fallen fighters and civilians killed by terrorists. Nevertheless, the latter have slipped from collective memory.
That’s why the website “Fleeting Flower” (Hebrew English) is so unique. Its webmaster, Roy, created the site to memorialize those who have already been forgotten once they dropped from newspaper headlines – the people who boarded a bus that blew up or walked into a cafe with a suicide bomber.