So, I was on my way to church today and decided to walk through St. Marks just for fun. I dont go there often because of the crowds but I like to see if anything is new or different occasionally. Today, I stumbled into a celebration which I think is the equivalent of our Armed Forces Day. I didnt find alot on the web about it but I figured it wasnt the celebration of the day that Italy annexed Venice (on November 4, 1866). The reason I really drew this conclusion is because they raised the Italian flag up the pole and not the Venetian flag!
Anyway, it was about a 30 minute ceremony. It was nice to see that there was some hommage paid to the forces in Italy but it was also a bit amusing. I cant say that I have ever been to an Armed Forces celebration in the US, so I have no clue if it happens or how big of a deal it is. But today, in Venice, it was a rather small event.
They blocked off part of the square and had all the different troops represented. I use the term troop loosely because there really was only about 10-12 of each group which I dont think is a troop???? There was the Navy, the military band, some vetereans and others that might have represented are what we know as army, airforce and marines. But to be honest, I dont know if they have all those distinctions here.
The funny part was that all the different types of police were present in troop form. I have always been amazed at how many uniformed police patrol around Venice. I know they are different only because of uniform but really dont know what their individual duties are. There is the military police, urban police, local police, prison police, and finance police. The finance police amuse me the most since I am in a country and city that is engulfed in financial corruption. They walk around with their machine guns apparently with the purpose of gunning down the tax evaders?! I dont know.
The band was to play music as each troop arrived into the square. I am assuming it was their particular theme song. It was like watching Gomer Pyle. The were so out of step, many of them turned the wrong way and ran into the other guys and they stopped very haphazardly and had to be reformed into some semblance of order. Again, I have no idea if the Italian military is worthy or not, but the show today didnt exactly provide a level of confidence.
After about 20 times of telling the troops to stand at attention and then at ease (as each troop or dignitary arrived and took their place), they rose the Italian flag up the middle flagpole in the square (the other 2 flagpoles are currently being repaired) and they played the equivalent of the Star Spangled Banner. Because its Venice, there were definitely more tourists than natives at the ceremony, but I was pleased to hear the Venetians belt out their national anthem.
Another 20 times of 'attention' and 'at ease' as everyone left one by one and the ceremony was over. In a place that one doesnt usually associate with patrioticism (mostly because it is so touristy), it was nice to see it happen, regardless of the fumbles made. God Bless Italy and the US.