Every year Yom HaZikaron takes places on the fourth of Iyar, which this year is today, May 9, 2011. Also known as Israel Memorial Day (a different day than the Holocaust Memorial Day that took place last week), Yom HaZikaron is a somber holiday which strikes me in great contrast to the celebratory mood that I am accustomed to in the United States for our own Memorial Day holiday. In Israel, Yom HaZikaron is a time to remember all those who lost their lives in struggle for Israeli independence including the soldiers who have died while serving in Israel's armed forces and the victims of the country's unfortunate history of terrorist acts.
|Soldiers stand in salute during the 11:00 a.m. moment of silence|
|Honoring the fallen in a moment of silence|
|Soldiers taking the honorary moments of silence|
|Visiting a grave of a fallen soldier|
Over at Safra Square, they were getting the area ready for the nighttime ceremony to honor the end of Israel's Memorial Day:
(And as long as I'm over at Safra Square, here are a few picture of the surrounding gardens, just because:)
Okay, sorry about that tangent there....back to Yom HaZikaron now. Just as on Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Memorial day), the air-raid siren play an important role in Yom HaZikaron. After sundown on the first day (which was last night), at 8:00PM, a piercing siren sounds for one minute...at which time, everyone in the nation comes to a standstill. Traffic stops. Conversations go silent. People stand motionless in the streets. The second siren sounds for two minutes the next day at 11:00AM, after which prayers are said in all the military cemeteries. Through my recent posts about Holocaust Remembrance Day as well as the moment of silence that we participated in for Gilad Schalit, you've seen images of the country coming to a standstill during these somber moments. Here is a video I found on You Tube that captures the feeling of the day, as cars on a busy highway in Tel Aviv come to a standstill (this happens to be from Holocaust Memorial Day, but it's the same idea):