Israel on Its Birthday

Rachel Gold, 17, agreed. "Next year, we will all be in the army. That could be my friend, that could be me."

Memorial Day also commemorates those who have died in terrorist attacks. According to Ha'aretz, 1,634 civilians have been killed in terror attacks since the state's establishment, and 24 people killed since last Memorial Day.

This year has special meaning for Trus, whose brother's friend died in the last terrorist attack this March at a Yeshiva, a Jewish religious seminary for young men. "But even if you didn't personally know someone who died, it feels like a part of you has died," Trus said.

Ruf's feelings about Memorial Day have never changed. "It's no different if you're a child or a soldier," he said. "Israel is my country and that's it."

However, Epstein said there is a difference between younger and older generations within Israel -- the youth sometimes take the country for granted. "I'm too young to feel like I'm being persecuted all the time," she said. "Too young to feel the impact of the Holocaust, the wars every other decade.

"For me, it's natural we have a state. I was born and raised here," Epstein said. "I think that's a mentality in Israel that only someone in my generation or younger could feel."

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