Israel Honors Nation’s War Dead
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Israel Honors Nation’s War Dead

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All of Israel came to a silent standstill for three minutes at 11 this morning in solemn memory of the nation’s war dead. Alerted by the steady wailing of sirens, traffic halted and pedestrians stopped in their tracks and stood at attention. The hour was selected to coincide with Memorial Day observances at military, cemeteries throughout the country. The principal rite was held at the military cemetery on Mt. Herzl overlooking Jerusalem where the El Moleh Rahamim and the Kaddish were recited by the bereaved father of a soldier who fell in the Yom Kippur War.

Memorial Day traditionally precedes Israel’s Independence Day and while in past years Yom Haatzmaut festivities commenced Immediately after sundown, this year they will not begin until tomorrow morning. The interval was decreed out of respect for the thousands of Israeli families still mourning their dead of the Yom Kippur War.

Memorial Day was heralded by a three-minute siren blast at 8 p.m. last night. Flags were lowered to half-mast and memorial flames were kindled at the Western Wall and other public sites. President Ephraim Katzir lit the memorial candle at the Western Wall in company of the armed forces Chief of Staff Gen. Mordechai Gur who briefly addressed the nation’s bereaved families. He said the country needed their continued faith “more than anything else” and their determination “to continue in the same way as your dear ones.”

This morning, Katzir visited Bar Kochba Square to inspect a guard of honor made up of veterans of Israel’s pre-Statehood underground defense organizations–Hagana, Irgun and Lehi. Later in the day, Katzir visited soldiers on the northern Golan Heights. Memorial ceremonies were held at Abu Tor, Government House Hill. Yemin Moshe and Ramat Rachel to honor members of the Jerusalem Brigade killed in the Six Day War. High school students placed wreaths at 17 memorial sites throughout the city.

Gur Issued a special order of the day on the occasion of Memorial Day. “We lower our flags and heads and salute, imbued with a feeling of pride and pain, at the gravesides of our comrades in arms–Jews, Druze, Circassians, and Bedouins–bereaved families, parents, wives, children. We look to you for spiritual and moral support, as only with these can the army continue to operate so that the human and Zionist dream of those who have fallen will come true,” the message said.

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