Sabers and tribal dances

(To Marco Bertolini)

As an incorrigible militarist that I am, I have always attended the historic Carabinieri Carousel with great emotion. I was always moved almost to tears by the vintage posture, with a vague archaeological flavor indeed, of his riders, with their black mustaches, their plumes and their confident hands that without compliments know how to make the horse understand who is the master. Hands as those of my grandfather must have been, extracted from the draft in 1902 and for two years in the “Nice Cavalry” regiment (1st). It was a farmer, accustomed by atavistic custom of his country to grooming animals, shoveling manure, cleaning litter, saddling mounts and putting the pack animals saddles. He was certainly also used to manipulating the tools of his centuries-old family routine, so similar in the end to those that were given to him upon incorporation. It must not have been too difficult for him, I think, to pass from the hoe and the scythe to the saber: always tools that required biceps and effort to handle; stuff for people with a strong scent of sweat and manure, with the heavy breath of those who eat little, drink wine and sanctify the day of celebration with Toscanello.

Although wearing a different but no less elegant and suggestive uniform, with his crested helmet and the Savoy cross on his forehead, he was essentially similar to these very elegant carabinieri of today, with their plume lamps and that solemn air that always hires the man on horseback. A dozen years later, recalled to arms for the Great War, he perished leaving four orphaned children and one, my father, on the way. But that's another story.

Instead the story I would like to deal with is the fact that the past, when it is re-proposed in the present, requires love and attention from those who are not satisfied with creating a fashion show of the uniforms of yesteryear, in a less rough cloth obviously, and instead you want to re-propose the same values ​​as then. Otherwise, the precipice into the ridiculous would be inevitable, as if a cohort of female soldiers with false mustaches and in lorica segmentata were organized to recall in some ceremony, with an eye to the dictates of new sensibilities, the battles of the Roman conquest of Gaul. . But the risk does not exist, given the removal of our history prior to the second half of the 20th century.

Leaving this long equestrian premise, just to make it clear my subdued thought about how traditions should be cultivated and respected, even if only from a formal point of view, the same thing occurs in other situations, such as when a typical symbol of the officers of the Forze Armed Forces, the blue scarf is also worn by other categories, distorting its meaning, dating back to the "Green Count", Amedeo VI during a 14th century crusade.

Indeed, our national military history has left many symbols behind it that adorn the military uniforms of today. These are not simple trappings to give satisfaction to the natural "patacchism" of the soldiers of all countries, but real "operational" tools to recall their nature as fighters, often put to the test by demeaning uses such as operation Safe Roads or the control of "social distancing" in the beaches, just to be clear. The same is true, even more so, for the saber which, although reduced to a simulacrum without a cut and harmless, adorns the side of officers and marshals in modern military ceremonies.

For this reason, the recent video of a young Navy officer who, with a scarf and saber, dances and makes the unit dance under her command the summer hit of the moment cannot leave indifferent. The fault is probably his unwanted virality on social networks (not to be confused with the now abhorred virility) which transformed an innocent "fooling around" among soldiers into a demonstration of bad taste, moreover proposed to an indiscriminate a-military public , if not anti-military, like our national intellectuals. A venial sin, in short, which however, as always when it comes to militarity, attracts the attention of many, ready to talk about the Armed Forces only to attack them, ridicule them, if not criminalize them.

Personally, I admit that I didn't like the scene at all (, for what I said before talking about mustaches and horses, but when I think about it, I too was a lieutenant and captain and I made a lot of nonsense. Also after.

We could close the question here, for what very little concerns me, if among the experts who felt compelled to throw the jacket to the Navy Chief of Staff, usually grappling with far more important issues, there were no also put Roberto Saviano, evidently pleased by the fact that the sailors would thus have shown that they were boys and girls with the joy of living, committed to shaking off "The sinister authoritarian flavor generated by dry screams and guns, by thumping boots". For this, he asks that they be denied "the punitive voices giving a note of commendation"To the officer and maybe you accept his witty proposal to introduce, "In the next oaths after the platoon parade, even a dance moment like this happened in Taranto". Perhaps, who knows, even this rhythmic as in the case in question from a song in the "Language that is spoken in Zimbabwe and that many of the men and women of the Navy have heard directly spoken by the people they rescued at sea".

And that's it! The martial nature of the Navy, which would therefore connote it as the "human" Armed Force unlike the others, should therefore today be based not on the sinking of the Santo Stefano by Luigi Rizzo or on the enterprises of the "pigs" in Alexandria, Suda and Gibraltar, not on the heroics of Atlantic submariners, but on the values ​​of those who would like her to be at the service of a ferrying of foreigners to Italy that no longer requires our annoying playback. And with the legislative changes in the pipeline on the subject of gender in schools and fighting the scourge of homophobia (?) is just what we needed.

Having said that, if the thing can reassure the well-known writer, an expert on Camorre and Gomorre good at most to nibble our national pride, the joie de vivre and the desire to play the soldiers had for default (in English perhaps it works better) even before the Taranto dance; even at the time of sabers and manure to shovel, in short. In fact, few situations such as the forced promiscuity, the deprivation of freedom and the risks of a profession that is a "mission", today also for the Troop, teach us to smile at ourselves and at others, even at superiors, without the need to introduce tribal dances. downstream of military ceremonies.

Also on what will be the initiatives of the Navy on the issue, rest assured that those in charge do not need your suggestions on how to regulate the disciplinary tone of the Armed Force, even if the next unionization of the military seems aimed precisely at giving voice to " external experts ”like him and to open breaches in an assembly management of life to arms that fight with what is happening around us.

Photo: ministry of defense / Jollyroger / Twitter