President Isaac Herzog addresses IDF soldiers on Israel's 75th Independence Day. (Tzipi Bini/GPO) (Tzipi Bini/GPO)
Herzog soldiers

Following is President Isaac Herzog’s speech at the ceremony saluting 120 outstanding soldiers in honor of Israel’s 75th Independence Day at the President’s Residence.

“Outstanding soldiers, dear families, citizens of Israel, Happy Independence Day! Happy 75th Birthday to the State of Israel! The state that belongs to us. To ALL of us!

Exactly 75 years ago, 5 Iyar 5708, David Ben-Gurion proclaimed “the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz-Israel [the Land of Israel], to be known as the State of Israel.” The open miracle, the historical wonder called “the State of Israel,” arose and came into being. In the throes of bitter battles, when only three years earlier, millions of Jews had been wiped out in the Holocaust—a legend became reality, and we—we were, and still are, like dreamers. You, the 120 outstanding soldiers of the IDF, defenders and protectors of Israel, represent this dream in essence. On behalf of the entire nation, I want to tell you: I am proud of you. We are all proud of you! Well done!

Sisters and brothers, Israel is a powerful country. Over 75 years of hope and resurrection, we have attained a whole raft of achievements, some extraordinary and groundbreaking—even by global standards. We could not have done any of this if we hadn’t done it all together! On the eve of independence, Ben-Gurion described the state of the nation: splintered into organizations, factions, an array of bodies and competing and conflicting interests. He wrote about how, in his view, with the formation of this marvel, the proclamation of sovereignty, “all the walls came crumbling down” and an astonishing unity was forged. “It is hard to say which of these two miracles was the greater: the miracle of the restoration of our sovereignty, or the miracle of Israel’s unity,” wrote Ben-Gurion.

In these days too, in this time of discord, we must remember: the Israeli mosaic— the stunning diversity where arguments, voices, opinions, and positions abound, is not a weakness. The wonderful Israeli mosaic, which includes Jews, Muslims, Christians, Dre, and Circassians; the religious, the secular, the traditionalist, and the ultra-Orthodox; veteran Israelis and new immigrants; people of all worldviews and lifestyles—this mosaic is our special power. It is our miracle.

You, the 120 outstanding soldiers on this stage, are 120 exemplars of hidden light and of hope. The IDF is the people’s army, and you, dear outstanding soldiers, together with your devoted and loving families, who give you strength, and who deserve enormous thanks today—you are our absolutely most beautiful face; the most beautiful face of the State of Israel.

To the lone soldiers here with us, alone, today, I wish to say: you are not alone! You are part of a family, called the State of Israel. You, together with all those who serve in the IDF, the security forces, the Police and interior security, in national and civilian service—you are all emblems of a young and wonderful generation, an Israeli generation brimming with a sense of mission, leadership, and a love of giving. We are all proud of you. Onwards and upwards! Happy Independence Day, Israel! May we all achieve our hearts’ desires!”

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