Held on the fifth day of the Hebrew calendar month of Iyar, Yom Ha'atzmaut is a modern holiday celebrating Israel's independence in 1948. Israeli Independence Day is always immediately preceeded by Yom Hazikaron - Memorial Day for the Fallen Israeli Soldiers. The message of linking these two days is clear: Israelis owe their independence--the very existence of the state - to the soldiers who sacrificed their lives for it.
The official "switch" from Yom Hazikaron to Yom Ha'atzmaut takes place a few minutes after sundown, with a ceremony at Jerusalem's Mount Herzl military cemetery in which the national flag is raised from half staff to the top of the pole. Usually, the president of Israel will deliver a speech of congratulations while soldiers representing all the various branches and units of the Israel Defense Forces parade with their flags. In recent decades this smaller-scale ceremony has replaced a much larger daytime parade which was the main event during the 1950s and '60s. The evening parade is followed by a torch lighting (hadlakat masuot) ceremony, symbolically marking the country's achievements in all spheres of life.