Hundreds of thousands of Israelis converged on Tel Aviv today to celebrate Army Day and pay tribute to the young state’s victorious troops. A perfectly-timed military procession paraded through the heart of the city to a Tel Aviv suburb where a crowd estimated at 50,000 witnessed President Chaim Weizmann bestow medals of valor and distinction on eight Army heroes. Four awards were also made posthumously to the families of slain heroes. (See early story on page 1.)
All roofs, windows, balconies and public buildings were beflagged for the occasion. Formations of Flying Fortresses and Israeli fighters flew overhead. At 4 P.M., Tel Aviv time, the entire populace paused to honor the memory of those who made the final sacrifice in the liberation of the young state. Cannons were fired and sirens sounded during this period.
Premier David Ben Gurion, addressing the celebrants from the reviewing stand where he was surrounded by top government officials as well as members of the diplomatic corps and other notables, declared: “Herzl’s spirit pervades the newly-rebuilt state of Israel. The bravery and acts of our Army will stand out in world history and are comparable to valorous chapters in the Bible. Our aspirations for peace and friendship with the Arab states carry a determination for the welfare and development of all Middle Eastern countries, but we must not discount the factors that persist in embittering relations between Israel and her Arab neighbors.
“Despite our victories,” the Israeli Premier continued, “we must pledge ourselves always to be prepared and to train our Army with the latest military technical developments.” Mr. Ben Gurion emphasized that “fate ordered and history proved that large-scale immigration and colonization are imperative for checking enemy encirclement.” He appealed to Israel’s youth to devote their lives to the defense of the homeland.
Spectators were deeply moved when an Israeli hero-Gena Simantov–who lost both his arms and legs were carried to the platform to be decorated for his valor by President Weizmann.
Posthumous decorations were awarded to: Zvi Siebel, born in Israel in 1925 and killed in the Negev; Itzhak Armoni, born in Israel in 1929, Emanuel Landau, born in Poland in 1928, killed near Haifa; Zerubavel Horowitz, born in Luthuania in 1929, killed in the Galilee. Living recipients of the awards were: Abraham Avigdorov, Yohai Ben Nun, Emil Brig, Aryeh Marcovitch, Ron Feller, Yair Rakheli, Gena Simantov and Ben Zion Leitner.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.