In a jarring contrast, Israel is transitioning from melancholic reflection to remember its fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism to joyous Independence Day celebrations.

Marked with a ceremony Wednesday night, Israel began celebrating 68 years since the modern Jewish state was formed.

The grouping of mournful Memorial Day with Independence Day celebrations is intentional, to show the link between the costly wars Israel has fought and the establishment and survival of the Jewish state.

During the day Israelis visited cemeteries and media broadcast documentaries about the country's wars and soldiers' personal wartime recollections.

A siren rang out at 11 a.m. and Israelis stood and paused to honor the fallen.

At nightfall Israel switched moods with parties, fireworks and other celebrations.