Thursday, May 26, 2011

Independence Day in Tbilisi

The beginning of the parade of military might

This morning at eleven o'clock, James and Katherine and I found ourselves a spot on Rustaveli Street in Tbilisi close to the Parliament building for the Independence Day parade. I had the song " a parade...." running through my head even though I really don't love a parade. But I felt a little different about today's. It was a good cultural experience, and one that I won't forget. As an outside observer to a demonstration of finally winning long-wished-for peace and freedom, I couldn't help but be caught up in the energy of the day.

The police were out in force. And I mean, bus-loads of police in full riot-gear as well as the regular uniformed police. They blocked off several streets around the parade route and lined the edges of the street where the parade was to take place. President Saakashvili gave a speech that I didn't understand much of..... except for the words that kept repeating: "mshvidoba" (peace), "tavisupleba" (freedom), and "saqartvelo" (Georgia). After the president's address, a couple of other people spoke, the Georgian national anthem was sung, and then the parade started. Troop after troop of armed forces marched down the street to the beat of music and clapping and cheers. There must have been over a couple of thousand of soldiers who were present in the city today. There were men in all different uniforms, chanting different things that brought the desired impressive response from all who watched them march by.

I know what this little guy wants to be when he grows up....

Watching them all march past, I couldn't help but wonder about each one. Where is each one from? What is each one's story? Why are they in the military? Are they really willing to give their lives for this country? When will they have to actually fight? Are their loved ones worried about them? Then I noticed the little boy dressed in fatigues on the other side of the road. He was so taken with the passage of platoon after platoon of impressive, strong, disciplined soldiers. His mother was, too. It was obvious what he wants to be when he grows up.

Then came row after row after row of army vehicles. The more they came, the bigger they got. Massive, go-anywhere, armored cars and tanks fitted with huge guns that could obliterate anything. Impressive? 


But I struggled with the need for it all. Why can't we all just get along? Why do we need military might? Why can't we all live in peace with each other? 

Of course I know the answers to my idealist's questions. But I still have to ask them.

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