(Communicated by the Office of the President)
"In a day or two the flags will be folded. The trumpets will return to their regular sounds and Israel will go back to its daily routine. You will also return to your regular routines, but it will never be the same as ours. You will wake in the morning and in an instant, abruptly the smile that accompanied you all those years vanished. You will sit down for breakfast and the chair next to you will be empty and will never be filled again. It is the son that won't wake up late for the meal. It is the daughter that will not come. You will sit with friends in the evening and they will tell a joke and you will smile, like everyone, but the smile will be forced. Your friends will be relaxed. You no longer will be. Their stories and their words will seem like they come from a distant land. You will walk in the street and old friends will look down. And you will understand; it is hard for them to look into your sad eyes. You will hear family members, friends, acquaintances all try to speak to you but the words get lost. Because in front of your eyes and your faces words are lost.
You will look closely at friends who always came to visit them. You will see them grow-up in front of your eyes, finishing their army services, getting married, having children, building a career, rising up the ladder and rising in rank. Your thoughts will wander to distant and dreamy scenes; that's your daughter, that's your son, who will no longer see the light of day. Who will not be a father, who will not grow old. His face will always remain as pure as snow. And the lines will decorate your face, not his.
We are those that know your routine will never be like ours. We are those that know the secret of your tear-stained pillow at night. We who walked side by side with your children, who saw them in the last moments of their lives, we know that this evening there are no words that can heal that pain. We know that the hug which can roll back the wheel of life as if nothing had happened, has not yet been discovered. As if the nightmare is over, as if it was a bad dream.
If only there was such a word, such an embrace we would go to the ends of the earth to bring it to you. You, who will never again hear your children's laughter or their voice as they come down the stairs, you will not pull the covers at night over your child, the father, the husband. You, who will not worry again about their late return home. There is no end to your pain, there isn't a day or a night, nor a month or a year. You the parents, the fiancés, the children, the brothers and the sisters – You are the real heroes of life.
Tomorrow, or the next day, you will return to your home which is missing a son or a daughter, you will look at the pictures on the wall and in the albums, remember each moment, each word, each laugh – and the tears will run down your cheeks. We won't be there when you cry, but we know well the rivers of your tears. We know how much you invested in raising these wonderful children.
We are here today to say to you that we know there is no comfort for someone who lost a son, a husband, a father, a brother. That we cannot replace those who have gone. But maybe it will comfort you, even a little, the knowledge that we, your family, your friends, we remember them and will always remember them. Their faces will never disappear from the images of our life. For every mother and father whose world has been darkened, for every wife who became a widow, and for every brother and sister, son and daughter of a fallen soldier, who shed a tear for their loves ones – who hug and embrace the cold stone lovingly. To you, the families, this stone monument is not unknown. It is an anchor for your longing that will never move. It is a load of sorrow, always in your hearts.
Nurit Dagan, who son fell in an explosion in Beit-Lid best described the sense of loss. She wrote:
'The hardest thing is living, to carry on as if nothing has happened. To know that the sun rises and sets even without you. The easiest thing is to wear dark clothes, to curl up at home in painful silence. It is hardest to buy new clothes, to put on make-up, to go the cinema and the theatre, to go to friends weddings, to laugh at jokes about the country. It is easiest to stay at home and watch soap operas. It is hardest to watch the news and see young soldiers injured and killed. Killed, like you. Our children. It is easiest to flee abroad during the holidays. To wander around a foreign country, to forget the festive atmosphere at home, that everyone is celebrating with their families. It is hardest to stay in Israel during the festivals, to take part in the festivities, to smile, to speak gently while inside your heart is broken, broken and decaying with longing. It is easiest to take part in the memorial, like the one here tonight. To mourn with everyone of the loss of our beloved children, too soon, the hardest thing is returning home from here, to the missing, to the emptiness.'
So she wrote, in tears not in ink.
When you and I look out from within this deep mourning, at this historic place called the State of Israel. At our victories on the battlefields and in peace. The vibrant pulse of creativity. The fantastic achievements that place this country at the forefront of the world in so many fields. There is no limit to our pride, there is no limit to my pride. Israel's existence is no longer in question. The IDF is ready for any scenario, against any enemy. Against any danger.
The courage and spirit of the soldiers of the IDF and their commanders, their courage and faith in the righteousness of their path together with the preservation of their morals and values are the guarantees that the IDF will prevail. We know it. Our enemies have learnt it. May they not err again. We have a duty to spare no effort and no cost to end the war and bring security and peace to this country. Because even if the price of peace will be heavy – we will always be able to bear it. Terror brings death. Peace brings life. For us and our neighbours.
We will not forget even for a moment and will always remember those for whom the survival of Israel and its glory are indebted. Those who over the 65 years of the state's existence, protected her with their bodies, their blood and their lives, defended her borders and the security of her citizens, her independence and her freedom. Israel is as dear to us as the bravery of her fighters, and as dear as the depth of the sorrow for each fallen soldier.
Here, next to the sacred stones of the Western Wall, I say on behalf of all of Israel, that you, the fallen of Israel's wars deserve eternal glory and our ultimate gratitude."