JERUSALEM (Dec. 12)
Golda Meir’s last wish was that no eulogies be said at her funeral. Indeed, no eulogies were said on this cold, rainy Tuesday in Jerusalem, but the sight of the tens of thousands who came to pay their last respects to Golda Meir, said more than a thousand words.
Seeking shelter from the rain under their umbrellas, friends came from all over the world, to share the grief of the family, and bid farewell to Golda. It was a quiet and dignified demonstration of admiration for the woman who was a part of Israel’s political scene for so many years.
Only early this morning did the long line of people, coming to pay their respects by Golda’s coffin in front of the Knesset building, reach its end. Some 100,000 Israelis lined up in a queue that stretched all the way down to the Israel Museum, about half a mile away from the Knesset building, and quietly passed by the coffin.
This morning, the Knesset guards who stood by the casket, were replaced by an army honor guard. The Chief Army Chaplain said the prayers for the dead, and Golda’s son, Menahem, said kaddish. Actress Orna Porat read a passage from Golda’s book, “My Life,” and a part of Golda’s speech in 1970 at the height of the war of attrition, pledging Israel’s devotion to the cause of peace.
WORLD DIGNITARIES PRESENT
As the Hebrew text was read, the many overseas guests stood patiently in front of the Knesset entrance, a gallery of world renowned dignitaries, including President Carter’s mother, Lillian, Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former British Premier Harold Wilson, and other guests from many countries. (Related story P. 3.)
Afterwards, six colonels carried the coffin, escorted by six army generals, and placed it on an army command car. Only 300 of those present accompanied the bier to the National Cemetery on Mt. Herzl where there was no space for a larger crowd.
As the funeral motorcade proceeded along Herzl Boulevard toward the cemetery, the rain became stronger and the large crowds expected along the funeral route did not materialize. Three jeeps, carrying the national flag and the flags of the army and the Israel police led the funeral procession. They were followed by the coffin-bearing command car and a number of limousines.
President Yitzhak Navon, his wife, and Mrs. Carter were in the first car, followed by the cars of Premier Menachem Begin, Knesset Speaker Yitzhak Shamir, Chief Justice Yoel Sussman, and the Chief Rabbis. Then came several buses carrying others invited to take part in the burial ceremony.
At the gravesite, there was a brief ceremony of a prayer and kaddish recited by Golda’s son. As is customary at state and military funerals, when the casket was laid in the grave, a special prayer was said and a team of women soldiers placed wreaths on the grave. Then, under a pouring rain, each mourner walked past the grave. Suddenly, for a few seconds, the cloudy skies opened and a ray of sunlight fell on the new grave. Then it began to rain again.