The sirens blaring as the State of Israel marks Yom Hazikaron—Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism—command that we distinguish this day from all others. Their wail is a cry for the loss and the pain, and a command to put aside anything that is not essential and focus solely on the duty to remember.

Remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice on their path so that our path is safe. Remember those who chose to be at the tip of the spear, in combat units, risking life and limb to safeguard the generations to come. Remember all the men and women, in all the units, who served as the bulwark for our country.

The siren echoes nationwide to remind us all we are safe thanks to generations of defenders. The sound, which spreads to every community, reminds us that community life, creation and development would not have been possible without the dedication of the soldiers.

The sound permeates every school and synagogue, and underscores the duty of education for ethics and values, for volunteering for civil service and for enlisting in meaningful combat service.

The siren’s wail enters the hearts of those who lost close friends, the teacher who raised the girl who became an officer, the rabbi who taught the yeshiva student who volunteered for an elite unit and the soldiers who lost their comrades.

The siren’s wail also reaches the bereaved families and there—and only there—does it meet a cry that is louder and more heart-wrenching than its own. That is the sound of sorrow and the sound of strength. The sound of the most agonizing pain and the most awe-inspiring resilience.

This sound also reminds us all that we are surrounded by challenges that require maintaining a military that is always battle-ready—one ready to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow; one whose esprit de corps is such that it is ready to rise to any challenge.

This sound comes to us in a complex time of controversy, crisis and distance, and it calls to us—and calls on us—to come together and unite around our shared consensus: the memory of the fallen and the unity of the goal.

On behalf of the soldiers and officers of the Israel Defense Forces, I salute strengthen and embrace the fallen and bereaved families and the wounded who bear the scars on their bodies and souls. I pledge that we will continue to spare no effort to ensure the safe return of our missing and captive. We will continue to remember, to learn and to teach, and we will continue to fulfill our mission—to protect and defend. And to win.

May the memory of the fallen be blessed.

Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi is the chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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