In the Islamic Republic of Iran, death has a long history. Martyrdom and death imprinted the very first moments of Shia Islam, when Imam Hussain was killed in the battle of Kerbala in 680. One year after the Islamic revolution – in 1980 – the young nation was gripped by a devastating war with its neighbour Iraq for eight years. In Iran, this war is called simply “Holy defense”. More than half a million people died, the war left the country traumatized until the present. The new government was able to defend the country under tremendous efforts, and with the help of thousands of young people willing to die for their country. Supreme leader Ayatollah Chomeini and his successors were able to shape the national identity from the ruins of the cities and the blood of its martyrs. The culture of martyrdom and remembrance is the foundation of the nation of Iran today. Its connection to the past is used for goals that the armed forces of Iran are trying to achieve domestically and abroad today – for the purpose of defending Islam in Syria and Iraq. This photo-essay is the product of visits to places of history and remembrance to promote understanding of this culture in Iran.