Independence Day’s Exceptional Soldiers Independence Day’s Exceptional Soldiers Independence Day celebrations in the IAF: Exceptional soldiers, award ceremonies, and a special toast for lone soldiers who serve their country despite difficulties. “The mutual responsibility of the Jewish people is the power that motivates us all. It’s the reason you are wearing uniforms”

Lya Shanel

The highlight of the day was right at the start. The President of Israel’s exceptional soldiers were called one by one to the stage in order to receive certificates from Commander of the IAF, Major General Nehoshtan. When Corporal Amelia Shovina, a lone soldier who came to Israel all the way from Azerbaijan, stepped on to the stage, the doors of the auditorium swung open. Her mother, who hadn’t seen her in two years, walked in and hugged her stunned daughter. In the coming days, she will also get to watch her daughter shake the hand of President Shimon Peres.

Amelia isn’t the only soldier whose parents arrive especially from abroad for the ceremony. For First Sergeant Hagar Zohar, the family reunion occurred under less joyful circumstances. Hagar is still hospitalized after going through a tragic accident last week, during the rehearsals for the national ceremony on Mount Herzl. Her parents arrived from the United States for support. “Unfortunately, Hagar was not able to be here today, but I will present her with this award personally”, said Major General Nehoshtan. “We wish her a quick and full recovery”.

Aside from the ceremonies mentioned above, a special toast was conducted in honor of the lone soldiers serving the IAF, in which more than 100 soldiers took part in. “The mutual responsibility of the Jewish people is the power which motivates us all. It’s the reason you are all wearing uniforms”, said Major General Nehoshtan. “Four of the President’s exceptional soldiers are lone soldiers and that makes me very proud. It expresses the desire not only to join the army, but to do it in the best possible way, in spite of the unique difficulties that you face. You are all exceptional to me”.