Speaker of the Knesset, Mr. Reuven Rivlin,

President of the Supreme Court, Justice Dorit Beinish,

Bereaved Families,

Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat,

Israel's Chief Rabbis, Rabbi Shlomo Moshe Amar and Rabbi Yona Metzger,

Chairman of the National Yad La’Banim Organizations, Eli Ben Shem,

Chairman of the Jerusalem Yad La’Banim Organization, Eli Dahan,

Generals and Commanders,

Distinguished Guests,

The soil of this land on which we are standing is "Yad Labanim" – sanctified in our sons' boundless devotion. Every piece of land, every rock or crevice is a reminder of the fierce nocturnal battle that took place here for the liberation of Jerusalem.

The fighters of the IDF in the Six Day War, not only on the Jerusalem front, carried in their hearts, upon marching to battle, the song we all remember from thiose days, "Jerusalem of Gold", which was written shortly before the war. Jerusalem and Zion are one and the same – Zionism stems from Zion, and the State of Israel stems from Zionism. Everything comes from Jerusalem and everything returns to Jerusalem. Every fallen soldier in Israel's battles wears the crown of Jerusalem, and we are dust at their feet.

Dear Families,

In a short while, at dusk, a memorial siren will be heard all across the nation. The people of Israel will unite in memory of those who fell in that long, continuous battle for our existence and independence.

The battlefields of this massive campaign, in which the defenders of the state fought and fell, are scattered all across the country and its borders.

It did not help them, Israel's haters. The State of Israel triumphed. It absorbed millions of immigrants from all ends of the earth, settled and built the land and developed a thriving economy, while maintaining a free, democratic, cultural society. In spite of all its enemies, Israel signed peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, and despite the difficulties, we will continue in the effort to complete the circle of peace with the rest of our neighbors until we succeed.

The State of Israel owes all these achievements to its fighting heroes – the ones who safeguarded, with their bodies and valiant spirits, our country. They are the ones most worthy of all to wear the nation's crown of glory and be the object of its love and deepest sense of gratitude.

We are people who seek life, and therefore we must continue consolidating our defensive shield – the Israel Defense Forces, the General Security Service, the Mossad, the Israel Police the Border Guard and all our security services. They are the guarantee of security, they are the key to peace.

The price we have paid, and continue to pay, for living in our country, is heavy, too heavy to bear, I know. My family was also affected by bereavement. Your grief is my grief, and like you, I feel the scorching pain in the depth of my heart.

Like you, I bear the memory, the longing and the loss.

Vera, you touched my heart. I am very familiar with your suffering, our suffering. There are levels of torment in the hell of grief and a high level is reserved for brothers and sons, but at the highest level is the agony of parents, fathers and perhaps even above them, mothers. I know.

At twilight, when darkness falls, the Memorial Day for Israel's Fallen Soldiers will commence. The sprit of everyday life will fade away at once, the pace of the day will be slowed, and Israel and the entire nation will be wrapped in sadness.

On this special day, the entire people, in complete national unity, will rise above every dispute and unite around the bereaved families with a profound sense of shared destiny, because every person in Israel has a relative, companion, friend or acquaintance from among the fallen, whose image they carry with them with an aching heart. There is always one person we remember more than any other, but in the end, we all remember all of them.

That is why the unity we are demonstrating on this day is natural and obvious. But on this day of unity, I wish to say that unity is needed in this nation on all days of the year. It is what helped us in the past to overcome great hardships and difficulties, and even now, it will help us face the great challenges of tomorrow. Our existence as a people and a state depends on our unity.

Today, while remembering the fallen, we will also think of the injured and disabled soldiers and wish them full recovery and rehabilitation. We will spare no effort in locating our missing soldiers and bringing home our kidnapped IDF soldier, Gilad Shalit.

Before our 61st Independence Day begins, we will unite in brotherly solidarity with you, members of the bereaved families, bring you closer to our hearts with love, and will remember and cherish our beloved ones – heroes of this nation – with eternal glory.

May the memory of the fallen be blessed.

Copyright Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs 2009