The view from my veranda

Mr President – Open letter to President Obama on Remembrance Day

Dear Mr President, Mr Obama
Today is Remembrance Day in Israel and the only television or radio programmes tell the stories of the families left behind, memories of their loved ones who died for their country. The Knesset station station shows names and photographs of each and every one of those who died and gentle, sad songs tell the stories of those lost for the full 24 hours, from the eve of Remembrance Day until the following sunset – so that each and every one of those who fought for Israel from the very beginning until today; from before the founding of the State until now when our very existence is questioned. When one sees the elderly parents who mourn their child, yet have enormous pride in what he/she did or the children who never knew their parents other than to go to their graves; young widows, brothers, sisters, school friends all of whom grew up with memories of one whose children were never born and whose life was barely lived.
Schoolchildren stand in schoolyards holding ceremonies appropriate to their age, wearing white and standing to attention during the siren listening to the stories of children in their school who lost family members. Today in Israel everyone comes together to honour the dead of many wars, we become one people; Jew, Christian, Druze, Bedouin, we all lost loved ones.
The ceremonies, both for those who died within the IDF and for those who died as a result of acts of terror are held in the presence of the President, the Prime Minister, the Chief of Staff, religious leaders and many diplomatic and parliamentary representatives. The ceremony for those who died in horrific terror attacks is separate yet part of this day – something you could do too because you too have victims of terror.
I well remember after Vietnam was the absolute disdain with which America greeted its returning soldiers, no matter how brave they were or the horrors that they suffered in the diabolical guerrilla war the fought, it was only Mi Lai that Americans spoke about. I believe it was a beginning for a loss of values that are hard fought. The USA has many wars as do we, although yours are held many thousands of miles from home and ours are just beyond our frail borders and sometimes within those borders. You fought WW1, WW2, Korea, Vietnam, now the Middle East and yet you have nothing like Remembrance Day that touches the heart and soul of an entire nation.
I just feel that in order to redeem what there is of true American Pride, without the racism that often accompanies it, is to honour those who died preserving the American way of life that now affords freedom to all.
Just a thought – as I sit and ponder your situation across the Atlantic as we mourn those who died and honour their lives yet prepare ourselves to celebrate the freedom they enabled us to enjoy with a huge national Independence Day celebration tonight.
With deep respect Mr President
Sheila Raviv, Jerusalem, ISRAEL