Lebanon Celebrates 74th Anniversary of Army Day
By Staff, Agencies
The Lebanese Army Thursday celebrated its 74th anniversary during an Army Day ceremony.
The most pressing dangers to Lebanon’s stability are economic challenges, not military ones, President Michel Aoun said Thursday during a ceremony marking 74 years since the founding of the Lebanese Army.
“Lebanon is facing economic threats that are more deadly than any military danger,” the president said at the Army Day ceremony, held at the Shukri Ghanem barracks in Fayyadieh.
Aoun lamented the poor economic situation Lebanon has found itself in, “due in some part to regional wars and the global financial crisis ... but also as a result of years and years of accumulated mistakes.”
However, “we can overcome them,” the president added.
On Wednesday, Aoun signed into law the 2019 state budget, which seeks to repair Lebanon’s fiscal woes by reducing the deficit-to-GDP ratio to 7 percent, down from more than 11 percent in 2018.
It was published in the Official Gazette Wednesday evening.
Two hundred and sixty-nine officers graduated during the ceremony, named “the Diamond Jubilee of Independence” to mark over 75 years since Lebanon gained independence from French mandatory powers. The graduates, who received commemorative swords from Aoun, comprised 166 Army officers, 90 from the Internal Security Forces, 11 from General Security and two from Customs.
Addressing the newly sworn-in officers, Aoun said: “We stand before a group of young people who have chosen to take a difficult path in their working lives.”
“Being a soldier is a way of life,” he added.
On Twitter, #LebaneseArmyDay in Arabic was the top trending hashtag Thursday morning, with hundreds of users expressing their pride and gratitude for the armed forces.
The Army was officially founded on Aug. 1 1945 when French authorities handed over the administration of 25,000 troops to Lebanon.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, Army commander Gen. Joseph Aoun and Defense Minister Elias Bou Saab also attended the ceremony.
As Aoun arrived, he laid a wreath of white flowers on a memorial to commemorate the Army’s fallen soldiers, accompanied by a rendition of the Lebanese National Anthem played by the military band. Once the president took his seat alongside Hariri and Berri, a fleet of Gazelle, Huey II and Puma helicopters belonging to the Lebanese Air Force flew over the site in an aerial display.
“Security is a red line. Our people deserve to live safely and exercise their rights freely and without fear,” the president said.
He indicated that the key threats to Lebanon’s security were "Israeli" violations of the 1701 UN Security Council Resolution and the dangers posed by terrorist attacks on the country.
Following Aoun’s speech, a group of Super Tucano and Cessna 208 Caravan aircraft passed overhead.