JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel has opened its annual Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism.

Sirens wailed Sunday night across Israel, bringing the country to a standstill. Israelis stopped in their tracks at 8:00 p.m. and stood silently for a minute to honor and remember the dead as the main memorial ceremony took place at Jerusalem’s Western Wall.

Israel says 23,169 security personnel have been killed since 1860, when Jews began moving back to the area.

The observance marks one of the most somber dates on the Israeli calendar as places of entertainment shut and radio and TV air documentaries about wars and soldiers killed.

The sad atmosphere ends sharply at sundown, however, when Israelis then joyfully take to the streets for independence day celebrations.