Mr. President and Mrs. Rivlin,

Distinguished Guests,    

And dearest of all – Bereaved Families,

As the siren sounds, the nation of Israel withdraws into itself. Every person in his pain. An entire nation bears the memory of its loved ones with sadness and pride, appreciates the contribution of its fallen heroes, and bows its head.

The people of Israel bows their heads in memory of their commanders and soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the defense of the homeland. We bow our heads to the memory of our soldiers who carried out their missions out of a sense of personal and national commitment to Israel’s civilians; who acted resourcefully, with level-headedness, and with great courage – and sacrificed their lives for us. We bow our heads and remember Israel’s sons and daughters that served courageously and with endless devotion to the full extent of their capabilities.

Here, in this plaza facing the Western Wall, many of them stood, reflected on the eternal stones, on the heritage of the Jewish People, and proudly declared the IDF (Zahal) oath: “I swear and commit to maintain allegiance to the State of Israel, its laws, and its authorities, to unconditionally accept upon myself the discipline of the Israel Defense Forces, to obey all the orders and instructions given by authorized commanders, and to devote all my energy, and even sacrifice my life, for the protection of the homeland and the liberty of Israel.”

On this occasion, in this historic and important place in the capital city of Jerusalem, here on this plaza reverberates the joy and sorrow and the voices of war and victory. Here, we are bound together: one army – one oath – one mission.

As the fallen have done in their oaths and like what the best of our sons and daughters do every year in one of the most defining moments of their lives – we also are required to raise our heads and look forward.

We look forward with pride and march by the light of the legacy left by the fallen – a legacy of brotherhood and tremendous sacrifice, of fighting spirit, of courage, and of bravery. In Israel’s wars, in operations and in covert activities, the legacy of the State of Israel and the Israel Defense Forces was written by courageous soldiers who charged forward even in impossible situations and when alone against many, against all odds.  This is a legacy of persistence and uncompromising fighting until the mission was fulfilled.

When we raise our heads, we see the defensive shield of our people – the Israel Defense Forces, the army of a fighting, strong, and victorious nation whose commanders and soldiers are on guard at these very moments. Today’s battlefield is different from the past. The threats are not the same threats but the spirit of the Israeli soldier throughout the generations still beats amongst our soldiers. As reality in the Middle East continues to change and be undermined, we continue to train and prepare for the day we receive the order to defend our homes with responsibility, ingenuity, determination, and bravery.

Distinguished Guests,

Today, in our aching silence, we raise our heads and observe everyone strengthening each other, united as one people, whose spirit cannot be broken. Memorial Day is a day of soul searching in order to continue on the path of the fallen and strengthen the might and spirit of the Israel Defense Forces.

Dear Bereaved Families,

Today, we raise our heads and look to you. You who struggle daily with the loss and with the void. The inner strength you demonstrate is appreciated and gives us great strength. Your connection with the Israel Defense Forces is the fulfillment of our promise to our fallen brothers and sisters – to stand by you always. We, who walked with them at the most difficult moments, feel their absence, and the heart aches at the thought of who they could have been today and the heights they could have reached. For their sake, we continue to carry the torch, to fight with courage, and to defend with determination. Because in their death, they have ordered us to live. We raise our heads to this land for whose wellbeing we are committed to, with confidence, pride, humility, and a sense of responsibility. We hope to be worthy of their memory and of their sacrifice. We pray: “Ordain peace in the land and grant its inhabitants eternal happiness.”

I pray today, as I do every day, for a full recovery to our wounded, and promise to continue accompanying them throughout the challenging journey they are enduring. We promise to continue working to return our soldiers home. This is our obligation as the people’s army, the Israel Defense Forces. Tomorrow, flags will be waved in honor of Independence Day, for a country our loved ones sacrificed their lives for.

Although the song of their lives was severed and cut short, we thank them and can say tomorrow with our heads held high: The music of the Nation of Israel will not stop. The Nation of Israel lives.