Indepencence Day - From the Archives of BH
From the Archives of Beit Hatfutsot - Celebrating Independence Day in the Early Years of the State of Israel.
After having celebrated the State of Israel's 63rd birthday, Beit Hatfutsot has delved into its archives to take a historic look at the Independence Day Parades which characterized these celebrations during the early years of the State.
During the first two decades following the establishment of the State of Israel, a parade marking Israel’s independence was organized annually by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). The parade was first held in 1948 during the War of Independence and every year thereafter from 1949 through 1968 on Independence Day. In 1973, after a break of five years, a parade was organized marking twenty-five years of Israel’s independence. Since then, no national Independence Day parades have been held.
The parades were the main event of the Independence Day celebrations, during the years when they were held. They attracted hundreds of thousands of spectators, many of whom lined up along the parade route hours before the parade started, sometimes taking their place the previous evening. The parades signified Israelis' pride that after thousands of years of exile; the independent Jewish state now had its own defense forces. The marchers were greeted enthusiastically. Most of the people in the crowds easily recalled a period when the Jewish people had no army, followed by the pre-State settlement period when there were only ad-hoc underground forces which preceded the establishment of the IDF. For children and new immigrants, the march demonstrated the sovereignty and power of the young state.
On the first anniversary of Israel's independence, the parade was held on Sunday, May 4 1949, in Tel Aviv. Approximately three hundred thousand people gathered to see the march through the city. After the first troops passed the reviewing stand, elated crowds broke into the parade route blocking the route. It was impossible for the parade to continue along its route. Thus, Israel’s first Independence Day Parade became known as the “the parade that did not move."
Following the 1968 Independence Day Parade, it was decided to discontinue the annual parade and only hold it in years warranting such a distinctive national event. In May 1973, a national parade was organized to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the State of Israel. There have been no national parades since 1973.