October 27, 2005
Austrian National Holiday 2005
[editor’s note: this post was “pasted” in — it appeared originally at the old Dawson’s Danube site, which is archived here.]
I enjoyed the big parade today as Austria celebrated Nationalfeiertag, which is the office state holiday commemorating the anniversary of the declaration of Austrian neutrality. Today was the 50th anniversary of that event and is also considered the 50th anniversary of the modern-day (i.e., post-occupation) Austrian military. The military put on a great show: almost 100 aircraft, 4200 soldiers, 180 tanks, and heck of a lot more.
I took a few photos. Here’s one of what I think is a Blackhawk flying over the parade route, though somebody please correct me if I’m wrong.
I took only seven photos. You can see them all at Flickr. Someone else took way more photos than I did, viewable also at Flickr. And the ORF (public broadcasting) has, of course, some fantastic photos, because they had a big remote camera way up high zooming along cables. The daily newspaper, Die Presse, also has a nice slideshow.
As always, I enjoyed the flyers the most. Among the helicopters were Blackhawks and Hueys. Among the fighter jets were Drakens (being retired this year), some model of Saab that I cannot remember, F-5 Tigers which Austria is leasing from Switzerland as they wait for their first batch of Eurofighter Typhoons in 2007, and then the Eurofighter Typhoons themselves (obviously from another country since Austria doesn’t have them yet.)
The Eurofighter has gotten a ton of bad press over the years. All the criticism may or may not be justified (or partially so), but I’ll tell you one thing from my little perspective on the ground today: they were awesome!
I was happy to see the Stars and Stripes (with a few Marines) taking part. I took a few videos (crappy ones using the digital camera), including one of the American flag marching past. You can see the Brits and the Russian Federation next to it: nfeirtag1.wmv (2.69 MB).
If you want to see a few different Austrian military uniforms, I slammed some short clips together into one movie: nfeirtag2.wmv (6.10 MB).
Of course the whole time I was thinking more about our own troops in both Afghanistan and Iraq. My heroes.
The crowd at the parade in Vienna was enormous. The exhibits on the Rathausplatz and Heldenplatz were interesting and enjoyable. I must hand it to the Bundesheer, they put on a really great show.
One thing was very noticeable, so much so that even my wife — an Austrian — commented on it several times: almost nobody waved their Austrian flags or cheered, despite flags being handed out to everybody along the parade route. That’s quite different from the United States. And though I would like to see the Austrians be a bit more outwardly proud of their Austrian-ness, I recognize and respect the historical reasons why people might tone down their enthusiasm during military parades.