Part of the about 90 coaches waiting until the children have to be picked up again
Every year the Ministry of Defense in the Netherlands organises Open Days where everybody is welcome to see what's happening in the Army, Navy or Airforce. This past weekend was the Army's turn.
Waiting in line to pick up the visitors on Saturday/Sunday
On Friday all the visitors had been invited and about 90 coaches had been roped in to bring all the high school students in: all 4,000+. On Saturday and Sunday it was open to everybody. On Saturday I drove an articulated bus (one of about 110 buses and articulated buses) to get at least part of the 55,000 visitors of that day in. As I said on my Dutch blog: they had to wait in jams before they could park their cars in fields, then they had to wait in jams to be shoved into a bus like sardines and lastly they would wait in line before they could finally enter the compound! It was okay to do though.
The cavalry and the pooper scoopers!
And then yesterday I got the chance to see why all those thousands and thousands come to see, since I had to take one of the army's musical groups. Unfortunately the weather was quite terrible (quite a bit of rain), but it was good fun nonetheless. Anything from antique military vehicles to the newest tank, cavalry to pipe band, several shows of tanks and personel in action (which I didn't see: too far to walk with my wobbly ankle), face painting to MASH and a concert by three middle aged men (Eric Mesie, Bert Heerink and a bloke I've never heard of) who sang popular Dutch eighties songs, accompanied by the Royal Military Orchestra Johan Willem Friso (the one on my coach).
Especially for Monique: face painting
One of the reasons these days are organised is to attract people who want to have a career in the army. There is no mandatory service anymore and like all other big companies, they have problems finding enough people. Days like these are used to showcase the best they have, although the worst will also be mentioned. Another reason is to be open on what they spend money on: what is used in Afghanistan, the jungle or even in the Netherlands itself. Whatever the reason though: it's a massive event!