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Yom Hazikaron is the day on which Israel honors its fallen servicemen and women. National memorial services are held in the presence of Israel's top leadership and military personnel. The day opens with a siren the preceding evening at 20:00 (8:00 pm), given that in the Hebrew calendar system, the day begins at sunset. The siren is heard all over the country and lasts for one minute, during which Israelis stop everything (including driving, which stops highways) and stand in silence, commemorating the fallen and showing respect. Many religious Jews say prayers for the souls of the fallen soldiers at this time. The official ceremony to mark the opening of the day takes place at the Western Wall, and the flag of Israel is lowered to half staff.
A two-minute siren is heard at 11:00 the following morning, which marks the opening of the official memorial ceremonies and private remembrance gatherings at each cemetery where soldiers are buried. Many Israelis visit the resting places of loved ones throughout the day. The day officially draws to a close between 19:00 and 20:00 (7–8 p.m.) with the official ceremony of Israel Independence Day on Mount Herzl, when the flag of Israel is returned to full staff.
Scheduling Yom Hazikaron right before Yom Ha-Atzma'ut is intended to remind people of the price paid for independence and of what was achieved with the soldiers' sacrifice. This transition shows the importance of this day among Israelis, most of whom have served in the armed forces or have a connection with people who were killed during their military service.
reply to post by smyleegrl
Not quite the same, but in the South we generally pull over and stop our cars whenever a funeral procession passes by. I remember my Dad stopping the car and waiting while the cars went by...and I asked him why we had stopped since we didn't know the deceased. He explained it was out of respect because everyone will someday lose a loved one. So we stop our car as a way to affirm the value of life, the loss experienced, and the recognition that our fate will inevitably be to take the same ride. Or, we just pull over b/c everyone else is doing it and we don't want to look like a total jerk.