I must have blogged about the 6th July parades in Fredericia before. That sounds like something I would have definitely done. (Oh look, two years ago)
Less well documented by me is the 5th July celebrations. This is because I have never observed them before although I have heard the canon fire from my house.
This time I managed to see the whole thing. I had the least honourable of intentions. My boyfriend is serving in the military and they make him march around sometimes and this was one of those times and I hoped to put him off like if he was a ceremonial guard of a queen or someone, I would definitely come see him at work and make faces at him.
I woke up this morning thinking “I can smell flags!” (smells like tents), and when I looked out of my window, there were flags as far as the eye can see. Which is remarkably less magical than waking up to blankets of snow, I can exclusively reveal.
So, what happened was this:- when the sun went down, a bunch of people brought down some flags (one on the ramparts, a few around the statue of the unknown soldier and one of each of the Nordic nations), simultaneously. This seemed historically inaccurate to me, Sweden and Denmark might be buds now but back then not so much.
I was stood next to three soldiers who seemed to be the only people in the town square who were saluting the flag as it went down, which is pretty much every Dane’s duty or something (NB: not an actual Danish duty).
Then a bunch of people walked past with burning torches. These people included:- a marching band, a bunch of actual war veterans (and some other soldiers), a dressing-up group of old-timey people, everyone else who likes holding torches but not pitchforks.
I raced the parade down to the beach and got some good shots of my boyfriend looking miserable and then I raced him around town until the procession ended. Some thoughts occurred (and it is probably just as well I deleted twitter in a fit of ‘but I’m not SAYING anything on there’ because I would have tweeted the shit out of this), the most pressing was “gee, I am glad I am not in the military”.
I am a teacher. My job has existed for a long time. Yet, I am not required to know how to teach children like it’s 1799. I do not have to, on ceremonial occasions, hit children for misbehaviour.
And yet, the military, who ride around in tricked out vans and walk around like normal people while fighting actual wars are expected to know how to do a thing that has not been relevant in battle since (not a military historian, so guessing), relying on sharp objects was replaced with more explodey and projectilish ways of murdering others.
Why march? It isn’t an efficient way to travel, it isn’t comfortable (if something chafes you, you’re not going to get to move it until the march is over which results in very real consequences involving blood), it is dangerous on bridges. No modern soldier needs to know how to march for any professional reason.
Plus, and I proved this multiple times, it is not very fast and someone with a camera phone and the will to take as many distracting photos as possible, can outwalk a marching army. Take that, military history.
Then we arrived at the old town hall. Something you need to know about Fredericia is that there are loads of old people’s homes. Whenever a public building closes (which is often), they suggest opening another home. Now, almost every building in Fredericia is opposite an old people’s home. You should not be shocked to hear that there is an old people’s home directly opposite the old town hall. The old people were watching on, there appeared to be an old people’s home party on one of the terraces. One of my prayers is “Don’t let me grow old in Denmark” and it is partly the fear of being invited to a 5. juli speech terrace party that lights a fire beneath my behind.
Loads of the soldiers who stood there recently returned from a war zone. There will be no commemorative marches or special parades more than a hundred years later to any of the things they did. This is because everything they did was in someone else’s country. They really should think about having a civil war every now and then, just to keep the historical marches relevant. Maybe they could ask someone to invade.
I am not sure how much time is spent on marching around to get this duty right and I am torn between thinking “Good, keep them busy, it’ll stop them going off and bombing something” and “For heaven’s sakes, my taxes are paying for defence and security, this is an unacceptable waste of their time.”
They asked a police commissioner to make a speech and god knows what he said because he was a mumbler. No one was listening to him, not the old people, not the children (out at 11pm! Scandal!), not the soldiers, not the marching band. It was not about the war with the a-little-bit-more-German-Danes but rather something about him being a police commissioner.
(On the actual 6th July, we will be getting Prince Henrik (the French one, married to the Queen), which should be good for a laugh. )
Then a band played everyone out and that was that.