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CULTURE & HERITAGE - Culture & History

   Yom Hazikaron – Yom Haatsmaut
       By Gilberte Jacaret

hazikaron1Yom Ha-Atzmaut in Israel is always preceded by Yom Hazikaron — Memorial Day for the Fallen Soldiers.
The message of linking these two days is clear: Israelis owe their independence--the very existence of the state — to the soldiers who sacrificed their lives for it.
It begins with an official ceremony at the Western Wall, as the flag of Israel is lowered to half staff. Places of entertainment are closed for the day. Radio and television stations play programs about Israel's wars and show programming that conveys the somber mood of the day.

As on Yom HaShoah, an air raid siren is played twice during Yom HaZikaron. When the siren is heard, all activity, including traffic, immediately stops.
People get out of their cars and stand at attention in memory of those who died defending Israel. The first siren marks the beginning of Memorial Day and the
second is sounded immediately prior to the public recitation of prayers in military cemeteries.

Numerous public ceremonies are held throughout Israel. There is a national ceremony at the military cemetery on Mt. Herzl,
  were many of Israel's leaders and soldiers are buried. Many schools and public buildings have memorials for those from their
  community who died in Israel's wars.
  The day officially draws to a close in the evening at the official ceremony of Israel Independence Day on Mount Herzl, when hazikaron2b
  the flag of Israel is returned to full staff right before Yom HaAtzmaut.

  The official "switch" from Yom Hazikaron to Yom Ha-Atzmaut takes place a few minutes after sundown, with a ceremony on
  Mount Herzl in Jerusalem in which
  the flag is raised from half staff (due to Memorial Day) to the top of the pole. The President of Israel delivers a speech
  of congratulations, and soldiers representing the army, navy, and air force parade with their flags.

   In recent decades this small-scale parade has replaced the large-scale daytime parade, which was the main event during
   the 1950s and '60s. The evening parade is followed by a torch lighting (hadlakat masuot) ceremony, which marks the
   country's achievements in all spheres of life.

In Israel it is a formal holiday; so almost everyone has the day off.

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Israeli Air Force Yom Ha'atzmaut flypast, 2011
Most of the official events take place in Israel's capital city Jerusalem, and are broadcast live on television.
Israeli families, regardless of religious observance or affiliation, celebrate with picnics and barbecues  Balconies are decorated with Israeli flags, and small flags are attached to car windows. Some leave the flags hoisted until after Yom Yerushalayim. Israeli Television channels air the official events live, and classic cult Israeli movies and skits are shown.

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Declaration of the State of Israel
Yom Ha'atzmaut is celebrated on the 5th day of Iyar (ה' באייר) in the Hebrew calendar, the anniversary of the day in which Israel independence was proclaimed, when David Ben-Gurion publicly read the Israeli Declaration of Independence. The corresponding Gregorian date was 14 May 1948.