On top of Masada there still remains building structures, as built through King Herod's efforts. They include palaces, lots of stores, living quarters, a synagogue and in Byzantine times a church (now also a ruin) was added. This building is in the area of storerooms. To the right and just above the wall, you can see the Dead Sea.
So what does Masada means to modern Israeli's. A lot. The following comes mostly from dear old Wiki:
The siege of Masada is often revered in modern Israel as "a symbol of Jewish heroism". To Israel, it symbolized the courage of the warriors of Masada, the strength they showed when they were able to keep hold of Masada for almost three years, and their choice of death over slavery in their struggle against an aggressive empire. Masada had become "the performance space of national heritage", the site of military ceremonies. Moshe Dayan, initiated the practice of holding the swearing-in ceremony of Israeli Armoured Corps soldiers who had completed their Tironut (basic training) on top of Masada. The ceremony ended with the declaration: "Masada shall not fall again." The soldiers climbed the Snake Path at night and were sworn in with torches lighting the background. This ceremony is now held at the Armoured Corps Memorial at Latrun, on the road from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Others, however, see the Masada tragedy as a case of Jewish radicals refusing to compromise, resorting instead to suicide and the murder of their families, both prohibited by Rabbinic Judaism. Researchers are questioning the findings of Yigael Yadin, the Israeli archaeologist who first excavated Masada. Masada was once a place of celebration for Israelis, but now "Israelis [have] become less comfortable with glorifying mass suicide and identifying with religious fanatics". Other archaeologists have reviewed Yadin's findings and have found some discrepancies. During Yadin's excavations, he found three bodies that he claimed were Jewish Zealots. Anthropologist Joe Zias and forensic expert Azriel Gorski claim that the bodies were actually three Romans taken hostage by the Jewish Zealots. If this is true, "Israel might have mistakenly bestowed the honour [of recognition as Jewish heroes and a state burial] on three Romans". There is also some discussion of Masada's defenders, and whether they were "the heroic hard core of the great Jewish revolt against Rome, or a gang of killers who became victims of a last Roman mopping-up operation".
Now, what do I think. I have heard stories of generals receiving their rank on Masada. I have heard the words "Masada shall not fall again" more than once. While on top of Masada, I have seen various groups of Israeli youths, being spoken to by soldiers. I do not know what was said, but the soldier was strutting, talking in a strong voice, while the youths (around 16years, I would guess) were listening intently, like they never listen to their teachers. When we wanted to enter the ruin of the synagogue, there was yet another group like that, spoken to by two soldiers. We were firmly told to leave, even when it is a public place. My first and second guesses are that patriot style propaganda was shared out during these sessions on top of Masada - even if the Armoured Corps members are now sworn in, elsewhere. I believe that Masada is still seen by many Israeli's as a symbol of heroism.
May we all experience a calm weekend, without some mad shooter/stabber/driver loosing his/her cool.