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WATCH: Israel transitions from honoring the fallen to embracing freedom

The unique scheduling of Memorial and Independence Day

In this ALL ISRAEL 101 video, we join the people of Israel as they commemorate Yom HaZikaron, Memorial Day, and transition into the joyous celebrations of Yom Ha'atzmaut, Independence Day.

Against the backdrop of Mount Herzl, Israel's national cemetery and memorial site in Jerusalem, we explore the profound symbolism of these two days, which are observed back-to-back.

Join us by watching the video above or reading the transcript below.

Welcome to ALL ISRAEL 101, I'm Kayla Sprague for ALL ISRAEL NEWS at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.

Today is a deeply meaningful day here in Israel as we observe Yom HaZikaron, our Memorial Day, immediately followed by Yom Ha'Atzmaut, our Independence Day.

The scheduling of these two days back to back is highly symbolic.

It represents how the sacrifices made by our courageous soldiers were instrumental, both in the founding of the State of Israel and in ensuring that our nation could not only survive, but thrive.

We are here on Mount Herzl, named after Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism.

This is Israel's National Cemetery, a memorial site here in Jerusalem.

It serves as the final resting place for prominent Jewish leaders, including Herzl, several Israeli prime ministers and presidents, as well as Israel's war casualties.

The site is also a venue for commemorative events and national celebrations. On Yom Hazikaron, the entire country comes to a standstill, a siren sounds across the land, and we all stop what we are doing and stand in silent tribute.

Remembering the 25,040 soldiers and 5,100 civilian victims of terror.

Ceremonies are held at cemeteries and memorial sites.

The flag is lowered to half mast and a solemn mood pervades the country as we honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

Yet, what is so striking is that right as the sun sets, as it is right now, the mood shifts dramatically, as Yom Ha'Atzmaut, Independence Day, begins, fireworks light up the night sky, joyous celebrations break out and people take to the streets to dance and sing.

The flag is raised back to full mast, and a sudden transition from grief to elation carries a powerful message – that we owe our very existence as an independent Jewish homeland to those who have laid down their lives for that dream.

Our freedom was bought at a heavy price

This year these messages feel all the more important in light of the tragic events of October 7th.

On that day, we were faced with a brutal terror attack that carried echoes of genocidal intent we know all too well from the Holocaust.

Yet, at the same time, we also witnessed awe-inspiring bravery of individuals who put themselves in harm's way to save others.

Their valor was a testament to the resilience of this country, still so young, but tested time and time again.

So, as we move from the solemn day of Yom HaZikaron to the celebration of Yom Ha'Atzmaut, let us hold both the sacrifices and the miracles in our hearts.

Let us grieve for those who have lost loved ones, but also rejoice in the extraordinary fact that Israel exists today.

Let us never take for granted the courage – past and present – that has made it possible for us to have this home.

In the words of our national anthem, HaTikvah, our hope is not yet lost.

After everything we have endured, the Jewish people are still here, still strong, still dreaming, and still determined.

May the memories of the fallen be a blessing and may Israel know lasting peace.

Thank you for joining us today.

Stay tuned for more coverage. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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