Honorees practice for Independence Day ceremony

May 1, 2017 03:56
1 minute read.
Reuven Rivlin

Reuven Rivlin tells IDF soldiers they are ‘the glory of Israel’ on April 27, 2017 at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem. (photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO)

Lt.-Col. Oded Nahari, head of the ceremonies department with the Israel Defense Forces, has conducted the military aspect of the annual Independence Day ceremony at the President’s Residence for the past 16 years.

Last Thursday morning, he stood on the lawn at the residence barking orders at 120 outstanding soldiers from all branches of the IDF who will be honored on Independence Day as he put them through their paces, rehearsing for the grand occasion.

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“Stand to attention, feet together, hands at your sides, fingers pointed toward the rear,” he said. “Sit! Stand! Sit! Don’t stamp when you walk. Tread gently and sit gently. You’re not in sync. Let’s do it again.”

To most onlookers the soldiers were doing just fine. No one – other than Nahari – detected any flaws in how they smartly snapped to attention, stood at ease or resumed their seats when ordered. But Nahari wanted to make sure they were 100% ready for Tuesday’s ceremony, when parents, siblings and grandparents would be watching.

At one point, President Reuven Rivlin came outside to the lawn and mounted the stage to tell the soldiers: “You’re the glory of Israel. My heart swells with pride as I look at you.”

He then proceeded to take stock of some dozen differently colored berets that denote which units the soldiers belong to and stopped to chat to some of them, asking where they came from.

Rivlin told them that on Independence Day the prime minister, defense minister and chief of staff would come to honor them, along with all their commanders.

“In Israel we are a citizen army,” he said. “You are the children and grandchildren of us all. People get worn out. The battery runs down. You are the generators of our people at this time,” Rivlin said, referring to the generations of soldiers who preceded them.

Wherever he went in traveling around the world, Rivlin noted, he heard praise for Israel’s army; not only for its capability, but for its morality as well.

Rivlin added how particularly proud he was to see so many women soldiers, officers and combatants.

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