Albanians celebrate 100 years of independence
December 2, 2012
FORWARD OPERATING BASE SPIN BOLDAK, Afghanistan - A night of manning defense and fighting positions into the early morning didn't stop Albanian and American soldiers at Forward Operating Base Spin Boldak from recognizing Albania's 100th year of independence in a celebration held here, Nov. 28, 2012.
The event, hosted by soldiers with Contingent Eagle V of the Albanian Special Operations Force, brought together international service members and civilians from across Regional Command (South). Colors of black and red were displayed throughout the venue with Albania's flag taking center stage.
"The red color of the flag symbolizes the bloodshed throughout our history of fierce wars. The black color symbolizes the mourning of mothers, daughters and sisters of fallen heroes in the field of battle and defense of our freedom. The eagle represents freedom and our ancient origins," said Albanian Lt. Col. Ekland Dauti, the commander of Eagle V.
During the ceremony, Dauti spoke of Albania's history, long struggle for independence, and fight against injustice. Albania won its freedom from the Ottoman Empire after 500 years of rule. Dauti remarked on the events of 1919 when U.S. President Woodrow Wilson dismissed a plan to divide Albania which helped confirm its territorial integrity.
Guest speakers included Australian army Brig. Gen. Mark Brewer, Regional Command (South) deputy commanding general for force development, and U.S. Army Lt. Col. Thomas Feltey, commander of the 2nd Infantry Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment. Both commended the Albanians on their achievements and contributions to the war in Afghanistan.
"I am convinced this day has brought together all Albanians," Dauti said. "I would like to greet all Albanians on this day of our national history, wherever they are, in Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Europe, America, and around the world to wish them a happy independence day."
Following those words, Albanian civilians and service members gathered to perform a traditional dance and sing songs from their country. The dancers, dressed patriotically, made a ring of red and black and invited their coalition counterparts to join hands in dance, song and celebration.
However, the celebration was not complete without sending their loved ones and home country a very special message. The Eagle V soldiers sang one of their traditional songs via a live video feed to an Albanian news affiliate. Dauti thanked deployed soldier's families for their sacrifice, and finished with the message of "may God bless Albania."