Remembrance Day for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel’s Wars and Victims of Terrorism began with a solemn ceremony at the Western Wall on Tuesday evening.The holy site’s Israeli flag was lowered to half-mast and the ceremony began with the sounding of a siren – as throughout the country – at 8 p.m. to signal the observance of one minute of silence in memory of the 23,645 security personnel and victims of terrorism slain in the pre-state Yishuv and the State of Israel.The ceremony was attended by Israeli and foreign military and political dignitaries including President Reuven Rivlin, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.In an emotional address to bereaved families and Israeli society, Rivlin praised the strength of those who had lost their loved ones.“When I meet them in their houses of mourning, I always feel as if we are exchanging silences, obvious silences. This evening, at the Wailing Wall, I want to say how sorry I am to convey the sadness of an entire nation. That the decree of life of this nation requires losing the best – losing your loved ones,” lamented Rivlin.“Every time we meet, I always ask that you choose life. And you choose life – for the children, for the parents, the grandparents, for the nation, for us. We wish to ease your broken hearts,” he said.“We owe a lifetime’s debt to all the houses on whose door knocked bereavement – who granted us the right to blossom here as a free people in our land,” Rivlin acknowledged.“Citizens of Israel, bereaved families: Tomorrow we will mark 70 years of Israeli independence. And we will remember your loved ones, the heroes,” the president promised.“We send a prayer to our soldiers, our missing soldiers and those killed but whose resting places are unknown. We will not be quiet until they return to our borders,” Rivlin concluded.Eisenkot paid tribute to the special nature of Israeli society in remaining strong despite great sacrifices made by its citizens.“Joint values of love for our homeland, mutual friendship and the unity of soldiers overcome all rifts. Even in the hardest moments, the IDF stands strong and draws on its strength from all those who serve it,” said Eisenkot.“We all made our separate ways to the Western Wall through personal pain. Every person comes here with pain, longing and the memory of the fallen. In this difficult but familiar moment, we come together under a shared national pain,” he said.“In this moment, our common identity is revealed, as a result of which we became unified as a nation and we established a state.”On Wednesday evening, Israel will swiftly transition from commemoration to celebration, as festivities for the country’s 70th Independence Day get under way with a state ceremony at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl.