Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Remembrance Day for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism, began on Monday evening with a siren and minute of silence in memory of those who have fallen followed by an official ceremony at the Western Wall.

Those in attendance included Israeli President Reuven Rivlin; Israel Defense Forces’ Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi; OC Manpower Directorate head Maj. Gen. Moti Almoz; and OC Nahal Brigade head Col. Yisrael Shomer.

Rivlin addressed bereaved families who “this year are alone in your rooms.”

“I know, dear families, that you do not need Remembrance Day to remember,” he said. “You have so many more days, so many more nights, all year. This day is for us so that we can, even just for a minute, know the names and the faces, the lives and the stories of the men and women of this country, of your loved ones. This year, we cannot cry together. This year, we cannot look each other in the eye.”

He added that “this year, more than ever, we will give them all life. We will all be memorial candles to the lives they lived and to the lives they will never live. We will embrace you, beloved families, from afar, our hearts with yours. Our souls are bound up with yours.”

The ceremony was held without an audience for the first time ever to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Israel’s Memorial Day honors the 23,816 security personnel who have died defending the State of Israel since 1860 and the 3,153 victims of terrorism in Israel and abroad.

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