Standing Still – In Memoriam [Culture]

Please watch the following video, it’s from the busiest major road in my country, taken at 10 AM. Note that it is not staged in any way or form:

This is footage from the, well, for lack of a better way to put it, one of Israel’s (Jewish majority’s) two secular high holy days, the Holocaust Remembrance day. On 10 AM during the Holocaust Remembrance Day, once at 6 PM the evening of the Soldiers’ and War casaulties’ memorial day, and once at 10 AM the day of. The two occasions are one week apart.

Standing during the siren is voluntary, no one forces you to stand (but you might get evil glares should you not stand in public). Many people stand up even when they are alone in a room with no one to observe them. This is part of the (Jewish) Israeli culture. As I thought of what I wanted to write here I noticed I’ve said much of it in my post about Grave of the Fireflies, which I’ve described as a “Holocaust Movie”. But it still holds.

Last Monday was the Holocaust Memorial Day, and as I stood, I felt a slight choke in the back of my throat, and I thought of the fact I have a really hard time feeling sadness due to real life, and am much more likely to feel it due to narratives in media – and I thought that the Holocaust Day is a day that is all about making the Holocaust into a narrative, of telling us its narrative. Note, I am not using “Narrative” in the derogatory way it is often used in modern deconstructionist works, but at face value – it has a story to tell, it tells by way of a story.

Yearly speeches at school, meeting in homeroom classes and talking about the Holocaust, the radio having nothing but melancholy songs, etc. Think of sequences in anime where someone dies or you say goodbye to someone, and you have dozens or hundreds of people in the street, and the synchronicity of all these participants in and of itself lends gravitas to the scene. This is what you see above in the video, the fact that it’s not staged is impressive – meaning, it leaves an impression on you.
Think Katniss‘ farewell to Rue in The Hunger Games, think saying goodbye to Laxux in Fairy Tail, and a great many other such sequences. Think even how impressive the following is, though it’s staged and has no real world implications:

I’ve read something interesting about the siren, and how everyone stands still – standing still is exactly what memorial days, what remembrance is all about. You take a moment to stop advancing, you stay in the unmoving time, you think back to the past. And then, it passes, and everyone goes back to the moving time, you let go of the past and return your walk into the future.
But every so often you stop, you stand still, the world stands still, and you remember. Remember the narrative that you’ve been told, the narrative that you create and propagate by standing still. You take the past with you.

(Note, this was an unscheduled post, and as such next week will likely have two entries. Also, due to past experiences, I’ll moderate comments on this post.)

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2 comments on “Standing Still – In Memoriam [Culture]

  1. bluedrakon says:

    I will admit that this is something you will never ever see on any major interstate of road in the United States. We are to self absorbed in our own daily lives to even consider this type of emotional display. I commend everyone on their respect for that time and honoring those that had fallen.

    • Guy says:

      Well, if you told me something of the sort could or does happen in Israel, I’d scoff at you. Aside from these three days every year, it’s really uncharacteristic, though this happening is a characteristic of the country.

      And well, part of it is respect, part of it is cultural, and there is some measure of social pressure to stand during the siren.

      People do say that people in Israel are very noisy/pushy and interfere in other people’s matters, for better and for worse – at least that’s what outsiders say, I can’t tell myself how true it is.

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