Alone in a Crowd - Armenia Independence Day Military Parade
A parade is one of those public settings you can usually safely blend into. Hidden, unnoticed, concealed. Lose yourself to wander in the mildly disorganized mass. Anonymous, undirected meandering in a celebratory crowd preoccupied with a holiday in the brilliant September sunshine.
Even a military parade invites camouflage. Never mind that you will be in closer proximity to weapons of major destruction than your sensibilities allow comfort. Some of the world’s most foreboding military hardware is prancing down the street to the tuba tunes in the band. In Armenia the military parade is supposed to be the main event of the independence day celebrations, although, surprisingly, most people in Yerevan do not know in the days before the actual event whether the metal and gunpowder show will be on. It is trite to say that war and conflict has directly affected every Armenian, today and in the past century. It is their history and their life. The jovial buoyancy of the crowd is incompatible with the potential destroyers on display but they have learned to live with it. Most Armenians enjoy a day off work even if the ticket is civilian inspection of defence armour. Azul blue, cloudless skies glaze over the conflict of modern warfare celebration. Just as long as the missiles do not meander from the parade route, blending should be a matter of movement and observation.
This annual Armenian party is mainly about assuring the people that there is a military force ready to defend their interest. But before, during and after the formality of the hardware parade, the primary event to outsiders is always the people watching. Army is the attire of choice for costumes. Face painting flags on youthful cheeks ready to salute. Families modeling full military participation. Men with military medals jingling on their breasts.
Any of life’s little surprises can walk into the scene and you are armed with the required tools.
Time to observe and the power of anonymity.
For more on parades and festivals in other parts of the world, see also: