24 January 2010

Tribute (EN)

Towards the end of December, many bloggers I follow posted 20-year anniversary notes about the Romanian Revolution of 1989. I am still debating with myself about the inter-woven layers of the mass demonstrations, the popular revolt, the coup within the communist party nomenklatura of that time, etc... But I can tell you about the things that happened to me during those troubled days:


In late spring 1989, I was conscripted for the obligatory military stage, and late summer assigned to an infantry unit in Bacău, in spite of a clear case of flat feet, and of a potentially damaging kidney condition.  I reported to my unit at the end of September 1989, noticing the military neighborhood--an air-force unit, a Securitate unit, a disciplinary battalion, a tanks & armored cars unit, as well as my destination, a combined infantry-artillery unit. Went through basic training and got sworn in by some time in November, while working the surrounding corn fields and following the works of the XIVth Congress of the Communist Party. Having some talent for acting, I joined with a dozen colleagues, and entered a competition for the artistic brigades of the military units located in the East of the country.

Unaware of the developments in Timișoara, our brigade won the competition, by lunchtime on December 17, with a sketch based on the conclusions of the XIVth Congress and the Căpâlna women dance. As a reward, we were allowed to take an after-lunch leave in town, until the 8:00 pm roll-call. Just as everybody else in town, we were totally oblivious about the protests taking place 600 km away, and made the best out of the first leave in 3 months. Only upon return to our unit did we realize something was boiling down--the entire neighborhood was up in arms. A bike-riding colonel stopped and disciplined our brigade, breaking the news that "Hungarians had invaded the West of the country," and severely directed all of us to our battle stations! We didn't even know the appropriate password, and I now realize we could've been killed upon return, just as it happened in Otopeni, as I learned a lot later...

I won't dwell too much on the way we spent those days, fully geared, prepared for battle, and constantly being told we were sworn in, under oath to serve the country--whatever monstrosity that may have meant... We started getting some real news on December 21, with the televised revolution. I remember we were deployed in town that night, to guard the heavily armed headquarters of the local militia--nobody in, nobody out... During that night and our following missions at the local shoe factory, city council and telecom, I discussed with my platoon-mates about the return of King Michael, the restoration of the 1923 Constitution, as well as the trial of communist crimes, similar to those of Nuremberg. The state of war-like alert only ended in early January, and then we could finally take our "Christmas leave"--with that 1-week leave I spent at home, witnessing the first mineriad and talking to my father, I realized that I'd been dreaming: Romania was never going back to monarchy, and communist crimes were never to be tried :(

A lot of people died during those days--fortunately enough, not under my very eyes... An estimated 2 million, including grandpa, were victims of the communist regime in Romania alone... And a lot more people died and withered within, in the following days and years, waiting for retribution, for justice, for restoration of property rights... I paid my tribute and respects to all of them, last October, just weeks ahead of the 20-year anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall... It's their merit that we finally witnessed the change, and it's our obligation to make things right for them all! I also struggle with that obligation...

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