By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
Israelis celebrated the country’s 73rd Independence Day Wednesday in public celebrations after the coronavirus pandemic shut down all gatherings last year.
With over 50% of the country vaccinated against the coronavirus, the country has been able to largely reopen its economy and allow large public gatherings, albeit restricted to those who have been vaccinated or can show they have recovered from being sick with the virus and thus have antibodies.
The country makes an emotional switch from mourning to celebration, having marked Wednesday’s Memorial Day with somber visits to cemeteries and recollections of those who have fallen in Israel’s wars or been victims of terrorism.
“Thanks to the fallen, our nation’s heroes who are always with us, we mark 73 years of renewed life, 73 years of building the country, of impressive achievements, remarkable prosperity,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier Wednesday at the national memorial ceremony.
Thursday is a national holiday with Israelis by the millions expected to exploit the good weather to hold barbecue picnics, go on nature hikes and visit museums and beaches.
Also on Thursday President Reuven Rivlin will host a reception at his official residence honoring the 120 outstanding IDF soldiers, with Rivlin saying he was excited that Israel has emerged from the coronavirus closures that canceled the in-person awards event last year.
“I see your excited faces and I am happy we can hold this moving ceremony this year almost as normal,” Rivlin said Tuesday at the dress rehearsal for the event. “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.”