We Will Always Remember
Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day), or in its full Hebrew name Yom HaZikaron LeHalalei Ma'arakhot Yisrael ul'Nifge'ei Pe'ulot HaEivah, is one of Israel's official National Days of Mourning, similar to Yom HaShoah.
On this day, Israel commemorates all of its fallen soldiers and victims of terror who were killed in and outside of Israel since the day the country was established in 1948. In a country so small, so young, and so tight-knit, almost every Israeli connects to this very powerful and mournful day personally.
How does our beautiful country commemorate so many heroes and loved ones on this powerful day?
There are many ceremonies all across the country, in which almost every school, youth movement, or any other organization has its own memorial ceremony. The main ceremony takes place at the Kotel (Western Wall) on the eve of Yom HaZikaron, where the President and Chief of Staff usually speak and the Chief IDF Cantor sings the El Maleh Rahamim prayer (a powerful and traditional prayer asking God to have mercy on the souls of those we have lost). In the morning, ceremonies are held in all of the military cemeteries across Israel. The main ceremony takes place at Mount Herzl, where the state representatives speak, and there are always delegates from foreign countries.
On this day there are two national sirens throughout the whole country, in which one must stand in silence and pay respect to the fallen. The first siren goes off at 20:00 in the evening, lasting one minute and officially starting the Yom HaZikaron events. The following morning, the second siren goes off at 11:00, and lasts for two minutes, and marks the beginning of all the ceremonies in the military cemeteries.
As Yom HaZikaron is a National Day of Mourning, all the flags across the country are lowered to half-staff. On a regular day, you probably don't even notice how many flags you actually walk by in Israel, but believe us - they're everywhere: schools, embassies, government office buildings, regular light posts on the street. We really take pride in our flag in Israel, so it is a unique sight to see them all at half-staff on this day.
There are two special prayers that are said on Yom HaZikaron- Yizkor (meaning "To Remember") and El Maleh Rahamim (a prayer beseeching God). Both prayers are said at every ceremony on this day, from the small personal ones to the main ceremonies at the Kotel (Western Wall) and Mount Herzl.
Dam HaMakabim (Red Everlasting) is the official symbol of Yom HaZikaron. Stickers with the flower's image are given out on this day at schools, ceremonies, and cemeteries, and are worn on the shirt as a symbol of remembrance.