The end of last week brought with it the end of recruit season, and with the vala (oath ceremony) I ended my service as an alokas (recruit) and became one of many new tykkimies (translated, I believe it is cannon men).
The day started as usual at around 6am with a call for men up, lights on, and good morning! We were told to get our holiday gear on and to get ready to leave for breakfast. The idea of eating porridge in good clothes with all the coordination that a hastey wake up affords made me a little nervous, however, on it came. Boots recieved a pollish, trousers were tucked into military blousers (used instead of tucking trousers into boots, uncomfortable but much easier to get uniform blousing on both trouser legs (Because that's important!)), zips all zipped closed, beret rolled and stuffed into left breast pocket (with the lion emblem facing out), velcro name tag afixed, collar coweled.
After breakfast, which was a good time to gage the increasing chill (between 10-15 degrees), I went back to the dormatory to wait for 8am, which was when we would be heading to Sastamala where the ceremony would take place.
8am came slowly, slower still was the wait to get on the busses outside in the light but cold drizzle.
Sitting and dozzing on the bus for an estimated 1 hour brought us in to the town center where we deboarded and lined up to drop off our bags for the duration of the 'festivities'. Then back into formation, this time in height order, and a final adjustment of berets, gloves, zips, laces, and repositioning of rifles.
Then came the call for attention, heels snap together, a moment passes before we are ordered to march, left foot swings forward while the left arm swings back. The goal of marching is to move as one, a goal we had almost always failed to achieve in practices. However, for some unknown reason, possibly the fear of humiliation infront of the numerous onlookers, family and friends, we marched well enough to recieve a 'you did good' from our senior liutenant.
We marched down a street and into a park and then onto a football field where the oath was to take place. Once all the battalions had been arranged in rows and at right angles to each other, forming a three sided rectangle, the Tykistöprikaati flags were brought in.
This is one of them.
It's the same symbol that I wear on my holiday uniform, right under the Finnish flag (See VLV post).
Next we were addressed by the colonel, then by the chaplain. Finally, standing at attention we simultaneously removed our berets with our right hand and placed it in our left (with elbow at 9o degrees), then removed our right glove and held our hand up with index and middle fingers raised and the other fingers suppressed by the thumb, we were given the oath from a veteran soldier. Repeating after him the begining and the end of the oath (rather clumsily by me I think). The colonal then gave a speach, thanking the people who deserved thanks, and telling us that we we no longer recruits, but TYKKIMIES!
The parade proceeded afterwards. Marching through the town center to the beat of a drum and the rest of the military band came as a relief to my back, legs, and feet which had begun to ache after an hour and a half of standing without being able to shift my feet, also helping to shake the slight but noticable chill gained from lack of movement.
The parade over, the end in sight, all that was left was to drop off our guns before we could go and greet our spectators, and possibly more important, drink some hot coffee, eat sausages with mustard, sugar doughnuts and hot pea and ham soup.
The day ended with the collection of our bags, one final formation where we were told to have a good weekend, and a comfy bus ride back to the garrison, and my car.