PRESIDENT REUVEN RIVLIN reviews this year’s 120 outstanding soldiers during a practice session at his Jerusalem residence yesterday in advance of Independence Day..
(photo credit: GPO)
On Thursday at the President’s Residence, Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot will for the first time as chief of staff salute each of the 120 outstanding soldiers at the traditional Independence Day ceremony, when each steps forward to receive his or her citation plus a scholarship for higher education.
It will also be a first for President Reuven Rivlin, who will shake the hand of each of the 120 recipients. But on Tuesday, when the soldiers came to the President’s Residence to rehearse for the grand occasion – which will also be attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, as well as soldiers’ relatives – Rivlin, who has a grandson in the IDF, took the opportunity to both applaud and salute them.
He greeted them with almost childlike awe and excitement, telling them that Independence Day is one of the most exciting days in the Israeli calendar, enabling the nation to express its appreciation and its pride to the army of the people.
Rivlin was thrilled to see all the branches of the armed forces – land, sea, and air – and voiced his admiration for their accomplishments.
For Rivlin, who was twice Speaker of the Knesset, the figure 120 is of great significance.
There are 120 members of the Knesset, modeled on the 120 sages who comprised the Sanhedrin of old, and the 120 outstanding soldiers combine wisdom with courage and the desire to serve and to defend.
Following the ceremony, there will be a musical performance under the title of “All Israel from Jerusalem.” The gathering’s attention will be temporarily diverted during the traditional fly-past by the Israel Air Force aerobatics team, trailing smoke in the blue and white national colors.