While firefighting aircraft were flying over the cemetery in Nesher, on Mount Carmel, the funeral of Elad Rivan, an 11th-grader at the Reali School in Haifa, was taking place. Rivan was killed as he tried to help contain the blaze, as part of his volunteer work as a Fire Scout.
The long convoy of vehicles carried his coffin from the central fire station in Haifa to burial in the cemetery, among trees of the kind the 16-year old had tried to save.
Hundreds attended the funeral, including President Shimon Peres, Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar, the mayors of Haifa and Nesher, family, friends, teachers and firemen.
"When you brought Elad into the heart of the burning Carmel," Peres told Rivan's mother, "you were a loving mother to a son. Now you have become the mother of an entire nation."
"In your room are still balloons from your 16th birthday, on your desk is still the last physics exam on which you scored a 95 - [you were] an excellent student," Peres said, whereupon someone in the crowd corrected him. "He got a 98," they said.
"No one sent you, no one called you - just your amazing, brave conscience," Peres said in his eulogy. "When this disaster is examined, it may be discovered that equipment was missing, but there was no shortage in incredible people and volunteers ... You fell without uniform, but as a brave, courageous soldier. Your face will be remembered as that of a hero in every sense of the word."
To the bereaved parents, the education minister said: "An entire nation weeps with you over the tragic loss of your only son. A 16-year-old youth taught the entire world what dedication is. There is no lesson that can teach what you taught us all. You set a standard of excellence according to which generations will be educated."
Fire Commissioner Shimon Romah also eulogized Rivan: "You joined the firefighters by choice, and you went straight into the thick of things. It was not a call that brought you, but your spirit. You went into the very heart of the fight, the most difficult place of all. You joined the first firefighting unit you saw. You fought until the last moment - together with thousands of others, the State of Israel bows its head to you. I salute you."
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