Memorial day stamp - 1974

  • Issue: April 1974
  • Designer: M. Pereg
  • Stamp size: 20 x 51.4 mm
  • Plate no.: 412
  • Sheet of 20 stamps Tabs: 10
  • Printers: Government Printers

On Memorial Day the nation morns its fallen heroes. Dedicated to those who died so that Israel, might be born and flourish, Memorial Day was fittingly chosen as that preceding Independence Day which is celebrated on the third day of the Jewish month of lyar - the anniversary of the foundation of the State.

The list of wartime martyrs grows unhappily longer. Nearly six thousand fell in the 1948 War of Independence, when the poorly-equipped "Hagana" became transformed into the Israel Defence Forces, destined to become perhaps the most highly thought of army in the world. The tactically successful Sinai Campaign of 1956 added its toll of victims, while the brilliantly planned and executed Six Day War of June 1967 brought in its wake hundreds of young lives cut short and families blighted by death.

Acclaimed in military circles everywhere for its expert handling against overwhelming odds, the Six Day War engendered a sense of exhilaration and accomplishment. Jerusalem was regained and the Western Wall of Herods ancient Temple was back in Jewish hands, while the conquest of the Sinai peninsula, of the Golan Heights and of the west bank of the Jordan gave the land protection from its enemies.

During the following six years Israel forged ahead in peaceful pursuits - developing, building and planting. Agriculture, trade and industry grew. Advisory centres for fishery and citriculture were set up in Gaza and other places in the administered territories; new methods of crop improvement and soil care were demonstrated to the farmers of the West Bank, and schools and factories established for the benefit of Jews and Arabs alike.

On October 6th, 1973 - the Day of Atonement, the most hallowed day in the Jewish calendar - when the members of Israel's civilian army were gathered together for communal worship, all hell broke loose on Israel's southern and northern borders. Thousands of tanks and aircraft, backed by diabolical Soviet-manufactured missiles, were activated at the same time by the Egyptian and Syrian commands reinforced by Iraqi, Jordanian and Moroccan troops.

Immediately the reservists' call-up went into effect. On this holiest day of the year, when the roads are normally deserted, when there are neither radio nor television programmes and only the chanting of prayers breaks the silence, telephone bells began to shrill. Emergency orders were sent out over the radio, and army trucks raced through the streets picking up the men and boys streaming out of the synagogues and hurrying them off to their bases. Many were still wearing their "Talith" - the striped prayer shawls, some already held net-camouflaged steel helmets in their hands, and others had their rifles slung over one shoulder.

For several days Israel's fate hung in the balance while the world awaited the final outcome. Could this small nation, with a working population of barely one million, hold its own against the combined strength of the Arabs backed by the giant United Soviet Socialist Republics? Thanks to the limitless self-sacrifice of its soldiers Israel survived. Its people were saved from destruction, and the Jews of the Diaspora could once more breathe freely and be proud of their ancestral country.

Those who fell in the War of Independence; in the Sinai Campaign; in the Six Day War and in the October War - also called the "Yom Kippur" War - will forever be honoured. Their names and deeds will be written in letters of fire. They will never be forgotten.

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Memorial day stamp - 1974