Happy birthday, Israel!

Israel Memlorial Wall

Two girls hang roses on the wall of names of fallen soldiers, at the Armored Corps memorial, before a ceremony marking the annual Memorial Day for soldiers and civilians killed in more than a century of conflict between Jews and Arabs, in Latrun near Jerusalem, Israel, Wednesday, May 11, 2016. Israel came to a standstill on Wednesday as sirens wailed across the country on its annual Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism. (Ariel Schalit/Associated Press)

It’s no accident that Memorial Day and Independence Day are back-to-back holidays in Israel.

On Wednesday night, Israel remembered those who’d fallen in more than a century of conflict as the modern-day state of Israel transitioned from a dream to reality. The cost of Israel’s independence is best symbolized at 11 a.m. on Memorial Day when the nation literally stands still.

When sirens wail across the country, cars and other vehicles pull over to the sides of highways and roads. Pedestrians stop moving and bow their heads. For a few moments, silence engulfs the nation.

And then, come sundown, the celebration begins!

Fireworks fill the sky. The sound of music fills the air. Couples dance. Fathers fire up the grills for a family cookout. When your nation has a birthday, it calls for a great celebration!

This week has marked the 68th birthday of Israel … and the terrible price its people have paid for their freedom.

Whether you live in Israel or America, or any other country that has given you the priceless gift of freedom, may we never forget that this gift came at great cost.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed his nation in a short speech this week.

“One of the fundamental requisites for independence is the willingness to fight for it, but that exacts a painful price — our fallen sons and daughters, brothers and sisters,” Netanyahu said. “We owe them everything. We know that we cannot exist without a defense force, we cannot maintain our independence if we do not build up our strength.”

So happy birthday, Israel!

And thank you for helping all of us remember the cost of freedom.