After various periods of residence in Vietnam totalling over more than five years no opportunity had arisen to witness an independence-day celebration. However, on the second of September, 2015, Vietnam celebrated its seventieth anniversary of independence and a major parade was held on the extensive Ba Dinh Square, Hanoi, in the shadow of founding father, Ho Chi Minh’s great mausoleum. Beginning with a march past of all the units of the armed forces it progressed to a procession of floats and glorious displays of elaborate costumes by a broad cross section of Vietnam’s fifty four ethic minority peoples.
Military parades are the same everywhere but Vietnam’s soldiers exhibited superb discipline, dressed in lines that were absolutely straight from whichever angle the TV cameramen chose to film them. They marched smartly in faultless step but with grim expressions matched only by those of the government officials who stood upon the dais to take the salute. Some units marched unarmed, but many strode with Kalashnikov rifles firmly clasped across their chests.
After the military came some enormous elaborately decorated floats of imaginative and colourful design, adorned by slender young women in matching dresses. One represented a famous building with every detail faithfully reproduced. Now the faces bore broad smiles. Teams of men supported long, brightly-coloured, paper dragons on sticks high above their heads which they caused to dip and twirl through precisely synchronised manoeuvers.
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