In honor of Israel’s 70th anniversary, 5,000 Israeli flags signed by 200,000 well-wishers from across the world will be placed in a time capsule at Jerusalem’s Ammunition Hill historic site to be opened in 2048 on Israel’s centenary.
At least 200 of the blue-and-white banners will hang from poles in the center’s main hall for several months starting on Jerusalem Day (May 13 this year) before joining the others in the capsule. They’ll be preserved in special envelopes and catalogued so signers can find their flags easily in 30 years’ time.
The signatures, blessings and wishes of children, soldiers, cultural and spiritual leaders, government officials, ambassadors and others from Israel as well as New Delhi, Rome, San Francisco, Bucharest, Copenhagen, San Paolo, Abidjan, Miami, Serbia, Moscow, Seoul, Tokyo and other citiesare inscribed in languages ranging from Portuguese to Arabic.
One school group came from Los Gatos, California, to hand-deliver their flag. In Florida, 4,000 students marched with 30 of the signed flags on Israeli Independence Day before sending them to Ammunition Hill. Many other groups sent pictures and videos of the signing event.
A US Army veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder visiting Israel with Heroes to Heroes wrote on the group’s flag, “Thank you, I chose life” – referring to the high rate of suicide among American war veterans and the healing power of his experience touring with Israeli counterparts.
The Ascending the Flag (Olim L’Degel) project was conceived by Alon Vald, events and marketing manager for Ammunition Hill, site of a critical Six-Day War battle in which Vald’s father and 23 other Israeli paratroopers were killed on June 6, 1967.
Iconic flags of the 1948 War of Independence, 1973 Yom Kippur War and 1967 Six-Day War are preserved at Ammunition Hill. “We are surrounded by epic stories about flags; they are national symbols that we cherish,” Vald tells ISRAEL21c.
The 70th anniversary of Israeli independence gave him an idea: “Why should we wait for a war? Let’s give out flags and sign them with our blessings for ourselves and for the future.”
The site provided 3,000 flags for distribution to communities far and wide with the cooperation of the Foreign Ministry, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) and other agencies and organizations.
“The Ministry of Education purchased another 2,000 flags and brought them to schools and afterschool centers, so the project really snowballed,” says Vald.
“It’s amazing what happens when you give seventh- and eighth-graders the opportunity to write a message to their future kids. The project connected them to their past, present and future.”
Following a request from AKIM Israel, a national organization for people with intellectual disabilities, Vald brought four flags to an AKIM activity center in Givatayim. Soldiers came from the nearby Kirya (IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv) to help the special-needs adults inscribe the flags.
“I was crying to see them write their blessings for themselves and for Israel 30 years from now,” says Vald.
Several flags are still on the way to Israel from far-away places including Australia and South America.
“In 2018, we are showing that our flag is not just about death and battlefields, it’s about our nation’s future,” says Vald. “Two hundred thousand blessings cannot go wrong.”
[Photo: Israel21c ]