“That spirit, the spirit of mission, the belief that our way was just and the promise to defend the Jewish and democratic state, to defend our home – that spirit still remains with us. You are that spirit. You are the compass. You are the flag.”
“For your sacrifice, for your professionalism, for the example you set for us all. In the most personal way possible, I would like to say thank you. Thank you for the security you bring us. Thank you for the pride you fill us with, for the belief that we are strong, that we can face any challenge. Thank you for giving us, today, 120 reasons to be happy.”
President Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin today, Thursday 15 April / 3 Iyyar, hosted the ‘All Israel from Jerusalem’ event and the ceremony for 120 outstanding soldiers in the gardens of Beit HaNasi for the seventh and last time in his term of office. IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi participated in this morning’s events to celebrate Israel’s 73rd Yom Haatzmaut.
The morning opened with a fly-past in honor of the outstanding soldiers of all branches of the IDF. The lead pilot gave the traditional greeting to the president and the outstanding soldiers over the radio as they flew over Beit HaNasi, saying, “Mr. President, Chief of Staff, we pilots of the Israel Air Force wish you Chag Atzmaut Sameach on behalf of the Israel Defence Forces.” The president replied, saluting: “On behalf of the people of Israel, I wish you, the pilots of the Israel Air Force, the men and women of the Israel Defence Forces and its commanders on land, sea and air – Chag Atzmaut Sameach!”
Immediately after the fly-past, the president and the chief of staff reviewed the 120 outstanding soldiers, who were selected and recommended by their commanders to receive the award from the president for their exceptional service the IDF and to the State of Israel. They then gathered for the traditional photograph of the 120 outstanding soldiers with the president and the chief of staff.
The first part of the broadcast, which was pre-recorded, was hosted by Rotem Abuav and include singersd Eliad Nachum and Ester Rada as well as a special tribute to songwriter Avihu Medina. Together with the president, they celebrated along with Israelis from around the country in a special salute to volunteers, teaching staff and medical teams.
The second part, was broadcast live from the gardens of Beit HaNasi, and included the award ceremony for 120 outstanding soldiers. As is customary, the president, IDF Chief of Staff and a representative of the soldiers delivered remarks.
President Rivlin said, “On this Yom Haatzmaut, you give us 120 reasons to be proud, 120 reasons to believe, 120 outstanding and wonderful men and women. I look at you, with your gleaming eyes and bated breath, the dew of youth still on your heads. And I know that even if it seems that we, as a people, find it difficult to agree on a direction, we have not lost our way, we have not lost our compass.”
“My dear ones, talented ones, the best of our young men and women – when I was a child, just a few streets away from this place, the State of Israel, the Jewish and democratic state was a dream. I was nine years old when I saw the flag raised for the first time up high. We were like dreamers. We could not believe that this historic right fell to us. You cannot imagine how exciting it was. Despite the heavy battles, despite the worrying news from the front, despite life under siege in Jerusalem, we were so proud, so happy, to see the soldiers of the defense forces, later the Israel Defense Forces, in their improvised khaki uniforms, determined to protect the dream that became, against all odds, our reality. That spirit, the spirit of mission, the belief that our way was just and the promise to defend the Jewish and democratic state, to defend our home – that spirit still remains with us. You are that spirit. You are the compass. You are the flag.”
“For your sacrifice, for your professionalism, for the example you set for us all. In the most personal way possible, I would like to say thank you. Thank you for the security you bring us. Thank you for the pride you fill us with, for the belief that we are strong, that we can face any challenge. Thank you for giving us, today, 120 reasons to be happy. You have no Idea how much we need it, how much I need it.”
“You, the outstanding soldiers, are beyond value. Among you there are soldiers and officers from the center and from the peripheries, from cities and villages, all of Israel’s tribes. You are all the face of the IDF, the people’s army, and we must ensure that the people’s army is part of the people, all its parts. And so, the IDF affords every man and woman who joins up the right to get to any role, in any unit. We must ensure that we invest the resources and information required to ensure that we incorporate all our young men and women, from all parts of the country, in all IDF units, in the field and in staff roles. We know well that the IDF is the entry point to Israeli society. We must ensure that it is open to all, a symbol of Israeli Hope. I wish you success! Chag Atzmaut Sameach, IDF! Chag Atzmaut Sameach, Israel! Long live the State of Israel!” said the president at the end of his remarks.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi: “The connection formed between soldiers during their service in the IDF strengthens Israeli statehood, which is a strategic asset to the country. Thanks to it we joined together, thanks to it we have built a national home, and thanks to it you are here. But there is a new danger that this asset faces. The digital revolution that has brought much good news to the world also carries unintended consequences. This may be a global phenomenon, but we are not powerless in its face. We in the IDF must be different. The IDF, which protects Israel’s security, will also continue to protect the asset of national security that was born in the Zionist-statist revolution.”