The Flags of Our Fathers

Novinite Insider » DESTINATIONS | May 4, 2007, Friday // 00:00| Views: | Comments: 0
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Bulgaria: The Flags of Our Fathers Everyone can get the feeling of what it's like to be on either side of the barrel at the museum without running the risk of being wounded. Photo by Sofia Photo Agency

Believe it or not, hasn't lost a single flag to the enemies since the forming of the Third Bulgarian Kingdom. Soldiers have died to preserve the flag of their formation and some have even managed to keep it while in captivity - wrapped tightly around their body for six months.

By Petya Sabinova

On the eve of the Day of the Bulgarian Army, one place worth visiting comes to my mind - the National Museum of Military History in Sofia.

The museum keeps every regular and irregular combat flag of the Bulgarian Army and along with them a lot of memories, war mementos and a vast collection of weapons, uniforms insignia, military seals and photographs.

One of the most impressive collections greets visitors from the yard, where dozens of tanks, rockets, howitzers, and other artillery vehicles are situated along with land and water mines. Everyone can get the feeling of what it's like to be on either side of the barrel without running the risk of being wounded.

Entering one of the museum buildings, first to catch the eye is the exquisite collection of firearms and cold weapons designed and crafted by Dyanko Dyankov and Alexander Spasov. Although the silver and mother-of-pearl encrusted weapons seem to be a treat to the eye, Dyankov waives praise off, explaining these were some of his "ugliest" works. Even as such they deserve admiration, but the master explains they are nothing compared to some of his guns that made buyers cry with their beauty.

Another hall worth a visit is the one that holds the collection of all types of Bulgarian military uniforms since the time of struggles for national liberation until present days. The collection was started in 1916 and has not missed a single uniform issued since.

Archeology fans can also find their favourite exhibit in the museum, for the collection of protective equipment features specimens as old as VI century B.C. One of the museum's most prized artefacts is a four-piece collection gathering the metal bowl, silver cross, hair and chain of Vasil Levski - Bulgarian Apostle of Freedom.

The most valuable lesson one can take home from the museum is that of history that shouldn't repeat itself. For the past years, the museum has mainly added memorabilia from peacekeeping missions abroad and experts there hope this will continue to be the case for the years to come. "I hope people come in, walk through the museum, and leave with a better understanding of courage but also of cruelty and bestiality and how wrong it all is," Dyankov says. "Then maybe we will all become a more peaceful people."
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