Yom Ha’atzmaut in Jerusalem :: State of Israel Celebrates 73 Miraculous Years
Wednesday was Yom HaZikaron (Israel’s Memorial Day) that leads directly in to Yom Ha’atzmaut (Independence Day), which begins on Wednesday night and continues through Thursday. The official national ceremonies take place in Israel’s eternal unified capital of Jerusalem.
Illustrative photo credit: Israel Defense Forces [License]
Israel at 73: Festivities & Dramatic IAF Flyover to Celebrate Independence Day
Article Courtesy: The Jewish Voice
Hundreds of Israeli flags are in place; the Air Force has been rehearsing its formation fly-by routine for days; platforms and sound systems stand ready in the main squares in town; and there’s a discernible festive air in the Jewish state. But before Yom Ha’atzmaut celebrations of the nation’s 73rd birthday take place on April 15th, Israel pays its annual tribute to those who fell in battles and terror attacks that continue to claim lives even until today.
Officially known as Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism Remembrance Day, Yom Hazikaron takes place the day before Yom Ha’atzmaut, and the piercing siren brings the country to a complete standstill at 8 p.m., then again at 11 a.m. the next morning for two minutes of silent remembrance. The abrupt change in atmosphere between the two days is stunning and uniquely Israeli.
On Yom Hazikaron, all Israeli places of entertainment, cafes and restaurants are closed. Authorities estimate that more than 1 million Israelis visit Israel’s military cemeteries during the day.
Coming one week after Yom HaShoah commemorations marking the systematic murder of 6 million Jews during the Holocaust, on Yom Hazikaron the state of Israel pauses to remember not the mass victims of Nazi death camps, but those Israelis who have died and continue to die, defending the state and its citizens.
Bereavement itself makes up a complete social class in Israel – close to 24,000 soldiers and civilians have died in the 73 years of statehood, leaving over 10,000 families to join the ranks of the bereaved. The central memorial ceremony takes place in Jerusalem as evening falls, and hundreds of bereaved families gather in the Western Wall plaza.
The flag at half-mast flutters in the brisk wind, and the memorial flame flickers boldly in front of the subdued crowd. The Kotel is bereft of the usual worshippers, replaced by rows and rows of men and women with profound sadness in their eyes and pain etched into their faces. The full spectrum of Israeli society is represented at the service – national religious and secular; Ashkenazi and Sephardi; rich and poor; old and young.
Towards the close of Memorial Day for Israel’s Fallen, the heavy mood slowly begins to lift as Israelis emerge from the somber day to celebrate Israel’s birthday.
The Israeli Air Force’s Yom Ha’atzmaut flyover will pass over more cities than usual this year, with the theme of the flyover being “Israeli Brotherhood,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit announced on April 2nd. The flyover will go over dozens of cities and locations between 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Yom Ha’atzmaut which falls on Thursday.
On Tuesday, it was reported that Israeli President Reuven Rivlin paid a visit to the 120 outstanding IDF soldiers during their dress rehearsal ahead of the celebrations for Israel’s 73rd Yom Haatzmaut/Independence Day celebrations in the gardens of Beit HaNasi. The event, ‘All Israel From Jerusalem’ will be broadcast on Thursday for the last time in the president’s term of office.
“I see your excited faces and I am happy we can hold this moving ceremony this year almost as normal,” said the president to the soldiers. “You are the outstanding soldiers, men and women, of the IDF, with berets of all colors, combatants, support troops, intelligence soldiers. You are, all of you together, the beautiful face of our country. We thank you, and on the morning of Yom Haatzmaut, we will spotlight you as the best of the best. Chag Sameach, my dears!” The president also thanked Lt.-Col. Oded Nahar, who will command the event for the 21st time this year.
In line with tradition, for the last time, the president will host the main celebrations on the morning of Israel’s 73rd Yom Haatzmaut with the ‘All Israel from Jerusalem’ event. The celebrations will begin with a fly-past of IAF combat aircraft, saluting the outstanding soldiers from all branches of the IDF.
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