Thursday, October 1, 2009

Happy National Day

Click the pix for larger picture.
Today is National Day. We are celebrating the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China by watching the morning extravaganza in Beijing. It's an impressive extravaganza of military disciplined marching and standing at attention without blinking. They have been preparing for months, this thing is BIG. The weather is a perfect fall day in Beijing, what Keith Jackson might call a perfect day for college football.
The grounds of Tianemen Square are covered with a rectangular mass of people with yellow and red cards that change messages on command. There are groups in colorful costumes representing all the ethnic groups of China (except expat English teachers). The top ministers are all lined up with president Hu Jintao looking nattily retro in his Mao Jacket. Different branches of the military are lined down the boulevard for several kilometers with tanks, guns, missile launchers, and various fighting vehicles with 50's white sidewalls to go with president Wu's jacket. The soldiers, sailors and air folk are standing at attention.
The music starts from the world's biggest brass band. I can't help but notice there is not a sheet of music to be seen. An honor guard goose steps with the national flag. It is raised with great flair. The president's limo emerges from the arched doorway beneath Mao's portrait looking uncannily as though the late chairman is giving birth to a motorcade. Hu stands in sunroof with a battery of microphones in front of him and the motorcade cruises steadily past the waiting forces. He stands at attention going past and shouts the same encouragement to each group, and each groups shouts its mighty response. They turn around at the end and he returns to Mao's portal. He then appears for a blessedly short speech, then the music starts again and it parade time!
The marching is truly impressive with its precision. The participants are chosen partly based on size, so they match pretty well. The navy is spiffy in their whites, and the women soldiers have short skirts and mighty stylish boots. President Hu has a big smile for them, much bigger than when the missiles roll by later. My personal favorite are the women's militia in their red mini skirted uniforms with matching white berets, Sam Brown belts, holsters, boots, and gloves. Anyway they are a far cry from the olive drab mechanic overall suited students from the old Red Guard.
It ends with a big flyover of all kinds of fighters, helicopters, bombers and other aircraft.\
Of course, this is not all. The festivities go on into the night, with giant precision fireworks, dance performances, singing, bands, and other choreographed debauchery.

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