As I was growing up, July 4 in the U.S. was always a day of fireworks, barbecues and family gatherings. But the highlight of the day was the parade down main street. Every town and city would have one, and each would be festive. There would be firetrucks and high school marching bands. Kids with balloons, eating hot dogs and sharing cotton candy. Veterans and their grandchildren with small American flags. Pretty girls waving from classic convertibles. It was a celebration. It was solemn. It was fun.
Today, on September 21, I have watched my tenth Independence Day parade in Armenia. And once again, no firetrucks, no marching bands, no kids and no flags. The event was comprised solely of the Armed Forces of Armenia – marching, saluting, standing in formation, and responding to commands by the president and defense minister of the republic. We had some nice military hardware on display too. And no pretty girls, just grumpy post-Soviet middle-aged men. It was more reminiscent of North Korea than North Carolina.
I guess you could still call this a celebration. I don’t think it was solemn, rather it felt staid. But it was most definitely not fun.