Tamás Vargha, Deputy Defence Minister and State Secretary for Defence in the National Assembly, held his celebratory press conference on the occasion of National Defence Day at the Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden on Sunday, 21 May.
As MP Vargha pointed out,
the date marks the successful recapture of Buda Castle by the Hungarian forces led by General Artúr Görgei in 1849,
during the 1848–1849 War of Independence. Since 1993, 21 May has been celebrated as National Defence Day in Hungary. However, it is not to be confused with the Memorial Day of Hungarian Heroes, which commemorates all those who gave their lives in battle for our country, and is marked on the last Sunday of May every year—this year, the two holidays are exactly one week apart. The modern Hungarian Defence Forces can proudly boast 175 years of history now, as they were formed in 1848, at the start of the War of Independence against the Habsburg regime.
At the press conference, Vargha also shared the good news that the Defense Ministry has decided to adopt the two Anatolian leopards housed at the Budapest Zoo, Akhumot and Banut.
Family Day Celebrations Ensue at City Park
While MP Vargha was saying his piece at the Budapest Zoo, only a few hundred yards away, families were taking part in a whole slew of fun activities at the Family Day organised by the Hungarian Defence Forces. The turnout was great, partly thanks to the weather turning fair at last by the end of May.
The row of army tanks on display on Károly Kós Boulevard was one of the two attractions that drew the most attention from the cheerful visitors. Families were queuing up to have a chance to either get on top, or get inside the Lynx KF41s and Leopard 2s casually parking on the street.
The other popular sight was the demonstration of empty-handed combat skills by a group of well-trained soldiers. They did not even need a stage for their performance, a large group of spectators formed around them while they were doing their demonstration in the middle of the road. The curious crowd also learnt disarming techniques, in case of an unfortunate situation when the soldier is not armed, but the enemy soldier is.
On top of all this, the attendees of the event got to try themselves on an army obstacle course (formed around the statue of Hungarian architect Ignác Alpár), test their aim with airsoft guns, or take a seat in a Mistral-Atlas rocket launcher, which was loaded with what were presumably dummy rockets. Many, many happy young children were taking part in these activities, while some of them were certainly considering joining the Defence Forces once they are of age.
All the while, members of the Count Franz Nádasdy Hussar Regiment were patrolling the area on horseback; and
the illustrious members of the Sports Battalion, such as Olympic gold medalist wrestler Tamás Lőrincz or Olympic silver medalist fencer Gergely Siklósi were also on scene,
ready to engage with visitors.
There were plenty of recruitment centres also set up, so anyone of age who got the inspiration to sign up and join the Defence Forces, either the active or the reserve personnel, could do it right then and there.