Can a Memorial Day be happy? Isn’t the essence of the concept to reflect, to introspect, to national-spect? I find that with national-specting comes a bit of shame, a dash of pride and a whole lotta tears either way.
To some, Israeli and American Memorial Days might be categorized as fraternal twins, if related at all. I would categorize them as not even making it to drastically different. They are more like completely separate concepts. And the primary reasons make sense:
1. Size of the country: Israel has about six million or so remembering while the United States has… a lot more people not remembering.
2. Content: Whatever Israelis are remembering, it happened within the century and most likely less than 60 years ago. Every non-charedi community has some sort of tekes happening, while most people would at least acknowledge the sirens that go off in the evening and morning. In the States, people are not as likely to give the last century much of a thought, nevermind the country’s humble – and bloody – beginnings.
3. People personality: Israelis and Americans have completely different national personalities. In the face of diversity, most Israelis somehow wind up identifying with the national loss. Israelis are a bunch of people plucked from a rainbow, huddled together in the corner of the room. Americans have no one face of diversity; what keeps them different keeps them apart.
4. Process: There is no process for most Americans, who probably don’t know any soldiers past or present anyway. I heard on the radio – maybe it was NPR even – announcements regarding the efforts the President was making today, and how he asked all Americans to pause at 3pm in their respective time zones. It’s hard to feel the silence when a couple states over your neighbors are still munching on BBQ. Israelis have an incredible, real, raw process that actually goes on for most of the year. The difference in the day is that there is a harmony of grown men’s tears.
Well, here I am in the United States for Memorial Day, a three-day weekend that has been relatively quiet. I myself am one of those removed Americans… waiting for a process to draw my tears.