As we do every year, Israelis on Monday made the incredible transition from deep mourning to bounding joy as we first marked the Memorial Day for our fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism before moving immediately into Independence Day.
Nationwide sirens on Sunday evening and Monday morning brought Israel to a standstill to remember 23,085 IDF soldiers who have fallen in the line of duty. Also remembered were the 2,493 Israelis who have been killed in acts of anti-Israel terrorism. Both sirens were followed by national and private Memorial Day ceremonies at cemeteries and war memorials across the country.
Israel's Ministry of Defense reports that there are 17,553 bereaved families of deceased security personnel in Israel, along with 2,324 orphans and 4,964 widows of the defense establishment.
Nearly every Israeli has lost a family member or friend to war or terrorism, meaning that for nearly every Israeli, Memorial Day is a very solemn time.
One interesting aspect of Israel's Memorial Day that is today lacking even in many Christian nations is the liberal referencing of the Bible by the nation's leaders. During the main national Memorial Day ceremony at the Western Wall on Sunday evening, Israeli President Shimon Peres, IDF chief Gen. Benny Gantz, Israel's chief rabbis and even the army emcee quoted repeatedly from the Bible and recited numerous prayers thanking God for His provision and blessing.
At sunset on Monday (remember that in Jewish tradition, days start at sunset), our mourning will turn to sudden joy as we burst into celebration over what the sacrifices of our loved ones has purchased - a safe and secure Jewish homeland after millennia of exile and persecution.
Tuesday's Independence Day events will include outdoor concerts at several venues, air and sea displays by Israel's military, tours of Israeli army bases, a ceremony for outstanding soldiers in Jerusalem, and the annual National Bible Quiz.