In two more days, the Armed Forces will be mounting their largest annual parade, for the occasion of Republic Day. This year the parade will include Trooping The Colour, a ceremony with ancient roots at the heart of which is the official army banner. Meanwhile, contacts are being made for the Armed Forces to get a new ceremonial uniform. The style is not expected to vary too much from how it looks today, however, the concept will be different.
Early on Tuesday morning at the parade ground of the AFM’s headquarters in Luqa, a general rehearsal was held for the Republic Day parade, the largest one of the year. Apart from the band, 120 soldiers from different army divisions are called to form four detachments.
The rehearsal went through each step and instruction which need to be made on Thursday morning at St George’s square, from the general salute to the Army Commander to the national salute made to the Prime Minister and the President of the Republic, who then inspects the guard of honour. This is followed by a musical performance by the AFM band.
A new concept will be Trooping The Colour, the exhibition of the AFM’s official banner. This dates back to Roman times when on returning to the camp every night, the soldiers used to exhibit the flag on which an eagle is depicted. The current format of the ceremony originated in the mid-18th century with the banner being carried along the detachments so that the soldiers would memorise it and recognise it during battle.
On Thursday, members of the Armed Forces will be wearing a special, ceremonial uniform. The AFM Commander, Brigadier Jeffrey Curmi, confirmed with TVM that funds have been approved for new ceremonial uniforms, with the aim being that each soldier would have his own uniform for when he is called to take part in parades and official occasions.
Brig Curmi said, ”right now we are going through the process of seeing what uniforms we want, and what our requirements are. The idea is to cut down on the number of uniforms. In other words, before this, we had the summer uniform and the winter uniform and you needed money to keep them presentable. Now we are seeing whether we can have material which is suitable for both summer and winter, in order to cut down on the quantities.”
He added that the change will be in the concept, with the use of one ceremonial uniform. No great changes are expected in the style so that the Army will retain its traditions.
Something unique in the Republic Day parade is the moment when the soldiers fire what is called the Feu-De -Jois . . . fire of joy . the symbol of the celebrations of this day, when the Republic was set up.
For those who will be attending the parade on Thursday in Valletta, which starts at 8.30am, this is the moment when the parade ends and as soon as the soldiers leave the square towards Republic Street, the Army and the country’s highest authorities will make way for the children who traditionally are allowed to enter the square to collect the empty cartridges which are left on the ground after the symbolic gunfire.