Notes From Hairenik
Today is September 21, 2006, the 15th anniversary of Armenia’s independence. I was fortunate enough to be back in time after my two-month hiatus from the homeland to take part in the morning festivities, being present for a jubilant parade that took place in Republic Square. A few thousand troops were there, marching about in order although some of the guys were stumbling a bit when they walked. But the troops were divided up into special categories—first there were a few groups of what seemed to be captains or lieutenants, then the ordinary foot soldiers. Next to stomp about were the beret-wearing guys—the blues, greens, and the reds, the later being the National Security Guard. Then the MIG fighter planes flew over the crowd—I counted a total of 16 flying in separate formations. There were also about 13 attack helicopters in the air. On the ground all sorts of military equipment were shown off, including about a dozen mini tanks, vehicles holding what seemed to be groups of paratroopers, a couple-dozen rocket launchers, about 16 missile launchers, and other exciting, damage-inducing artillery pulled along by Ural military trucks. Whatever was displayed—both the troops and equipment—was just a tip of the iceberg naturally, but it was still fabulous to see. But while trying to stay focused on what was going on before me I was constantly distracted by kids repeatedly trying to climb the tree under which myself and my friend Hamlet were standing for shade, despite a police officer’s constant reminder for them not to do so. Naturally one of the limbs broke to a silent response of "vochinch," although the cop seemed to be pretty pissed.

In any case, it was an impressive display of patriotism, with tens of thousands of people in attendance. The parade only lasted for an hour for some reason, and I thought there was going to be more celebrating with musical performances or whatever, but I suppose there will be more to come this evening.

Happy Independence Day! Long Live Armenia!

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