One thing I absolutely love about Iran is how the Iranians remember their history and retell it over and over again.
If you’re thinking this is some kind of war going on, you’re wrong. This is an exhibition that was held last week near the popular Jamkaran Mosque in Iran.
The show started at 21:00 hours with a heartfelt speech by Mahdi Yadgari, one of the generals who had fought gallantly protecting the Iranian borders in the 1980 war.
“The flag of the martyrs is up high,” General Yadgari said.
“Imam [Khomeini] hadn’t lied to us. Whatever Imam had predicted, happened. That Saddam went for Kuwait. That Saddam went up the gallows. And now, whatever Agha [Ali Khamenei] had predicted, is happening. He says that we will pray in the Bayt al-Muqaddas,” he continued, standing on a raised platform just before the show began.
“Where is Saddam now? Tell me, where is he? … Saddam and the 18 nations, who had imposed fighting upon us,” said Yadgari as the crowd listened tearfully.
Once he finished his speech, it was time for the re-enactment to begin.
“Javad, Javad, Reza!” blasted from the speakers followed by an analog voice, as if someone was talking over a handheld transceiver.
“Javad, Reza!” the man said again, to which another replied with the same words before the instructions for the operation were issued.
As the spotlight lit up the soldiers stealthily making their way towards the operation area, a bomb detonated right in the middle of the ground, to which, the crowd responded with a huge unanimous gasp. After that, a series of bombs were detonated, punctuated by shots that were fired from either of the two sides of the field.
The operation show continued for twenty minutes, giving the civilians a taste of what it is like to be in a war zone. It ended with people standing up for the national anthem of Iran as its tune danced in the background with the soldiers raising the flag of Iran and waving back at those who waved at them from the crowd.
The show was conducted under the supervision of the army and the IRGC, whom the crowds of people went to thank and take photos with afterwards. It was astonishing to know that all the bombs and ammunition used was real.
“Just be careful, the tank’s gun is still hot!” said the guard, as I showed my press pass requesting a photo.
Though the operation show was just one part of the exhibition, it was definitely the most vibrant. There were booths for different soldiers who had served in the Iran-Iraq war, bookstalls, play-areas and more. The purpose of this exhibition was to highlight the youth and the civilians, who might have never witnessed a military operation before, what it is actually like fighting to the death in the battlefield for the sake of defending one’s country.
Named as the ‘Holy Defense Week’, these six days are a time for the Iranians to commemorate the 8-year long war that was imposed on the nascent Islamic Republic back in 1980. Though Iran was successful in defending its borders, there were many, many casualties, with some of the martyrs’ bodies were buried under debris and not recovered until recently.
This past week, starting from the 31st of the Iranian month of Shahrivar, Iran will be booming with activities, exhibitions, camps, workshops and conferences dedicated to the commemoration of ‘the Holy Defense’.
Featured image via @whothezee.