PM SHARON'S SPEECH AT THE MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR
ISRAEL'S FALLEN SOLDIERS AT MOUNT HERZL
April 26, 2004,
Dear Families,

The siren we just heard stopped the clock of life and its din for a moment across the country.  In homes and on streets, in IDF
bases and workplaces, at schools and on roads, the citizens of Israel stood silent for the memory of Israel's fallen soldiers. 

In every heart, the image of a fallen soldier appeared, a beloved spirit, close and familiar, since in Israel there is no one who is a
stranger to or removed from the cost of war.

At the time of the siren, and for this entire
Day of Remembrance, feelings of grief and longing, love and gratitude rise in each of
us.  And there is no one who, during the day, does not hide a tear in their eye and a lump in their throat.

Here at Mount Herzl, and at all the military cemeteries across the nation, bereaved families are gathered, and all around them are
crowded rows of stone, modest and uniform, with names carved in the rock. 
"Every person has a name", and every family has a
small plot to cling to and cry over, to remember what was lost and will never return.

The gravestones around us are all alike, humble and silent, however for me their silence is more powerful than the uproar.

It is a difficult silence, the sadness which accompanies the images of the fallen outside the cemeteries as well.  This is the silence
of the memory of my comrades, soldiers and commanders who are with me wherever I go.

The fallen; who each embody an entire world, are a price with no measure, no exchange and no consolation.
They are the
price we paid in the vital effort to develop and ensure the existence of our own sacred corner of the world, Israel.


Since Jews from the corners of the world began to return to their birthplace, where Jewish settlement never ceased for thousands
of years, not even for one day
, we attained great achievements. We absorbed millions of Jews from one hundred and two
countries, who speak eighty-two languages, who immigrated to Israel, and participated in building and defending it
. We
revived the Hebrew language, the language of the Bible.  We achieved tremendous accomplishments in advanced industry, research and science, culture and art, agriculture (among the most advanced in the world); in medicine and other fields.  And all this was
accomplished while we were forced, unfortunately, to hold a defensive sword in one hand. 
We stood - and did not break.  We
fought - and triumphed.


We cannot return those who have gone, however we can and we will cherish the virtue of their sacrifice in thought and deed:  to
educate our children in their spirit;
to love with all our might this small, good country, the cradle of our homeland and freedom,
which was purchased with the blood of Israel's fallen soldiers;
to protect it from every enemy and foe, to take pride in it and
work ceaselessly towards progress, and in spite of our enemy's opposition to every move towards peace, to take a step which
would provide an opening for peace.

Today, as we stand at the dawn of a new era, I carry the memory of Israel's fallen soldiers, and promise to do my utmost so that
Israel will take initiatives, and not be dragged into initiatives, will lead and not be led in order to pave the way towards a break-
through for the desired peace.

May the memory of the fallen be blessed.
IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis
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