cemetary, fallen soldiers
Bereaved mothers meet weekly at the graves of their sons who are buried side by side in a Holon cemetery the documentary 'A Row and a Half.' Photo by 'A Row and a Half'
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Reuters
The mother and brother of a fallen Israeli air force pilot visiting his grave ahead of Memorial Day, at the Kiryat Shaul military cemetery in Tel Aviv May 8, 2011. Photo by Reuters

Families who have lost loved ones in defense of the country are lobbying to change the calendar so Memorial Day does not fall the day before Independence Day. The effort has been gaining support.

About 5,000 signatures, many from members of bereaved families, have been collected so far on a petition calling for the change, which would require Knesset legislation. Memorial Day began yesterday evening and ends this evening, when the country begins 24 hours of celebrations for Independence Day.

The petition states that, beyond the tremendous emotional pain the families experience on Memorial Day, the day demands a lot of them physically in visits to cemeteries and memorial ceremonies.

On the way home from the cemetery at the end of the day, the petition states, the bereaved encounter roads that are closed due to preparations for Independence Day.

"A minute after the terrible day of mourning, everyone (except us ) switches to huge celebrations all over the country," the petition says, adding that the current situation deprives "tens of thousands of bereaved families of the possibility of celebrating the country's independence" together with the rest of the country, noting that they have paid the highest price for the country's independence.