After 37 years, Israeli-American Sgt. First Class Zachary Baumel was laid to rest at the Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl military cemetery on Thursday evening, a service attended by thousands of people for an Israel Defense Forces’ soldier who was killed at the age of 21 in the 1982 Lebanon War.
“Zachary, after 37 years, a few days before the battle where you fell, you wrote to your parents, ‘Don’t worry, everything’s alright, but it looks like I won’t be home soon,’ ” said Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in his eulogy. “Thirty-seven years have elapsed, but today you returned home. You returned to our homeland, to Jerusalem.”
Subscribe to The JNS Daily Syndicate by email and never miss our top stories
“And today, when we bring you, Sergeant First Class Zachary Baumel, to eternal rest, nearly four decades after you fell, is the day that the State of Israel fulfills the oath it makes with its soldiers, men and women,” he added. “Today, we can say with full faith, that we do everything—even the inconceivable and the unbelievable—to fulfill our oath: to bring home our soldiers who did not return from battle.”
Baumel’s remains arrived in Israel on Wednesday.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remarked, “I got chills when I heard that Zachary was back home. We’ve been waiting for this for 37 years.”
“Bringing our sons back home touches the deepest part of our identity as Jews and Israelis,” he added. “In the name of these values, and out of love for Israel, Zachary went to war.”
Attending the funeral after returning on Thursday from meeting in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Netanyahu said he thanked him for Russian assistance in helping recover Baumel’s body.