A rather old-fashioned military oath

The anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia on the 28th of October is always an occasion for various celebrations and ceremonies. Traditionally, fresh recruits swear their military oath on that day, some of them at Prague Castle before the president of the Czech Republic. This year was no exception. But as Vladimir Tax reports, it was somewhat different from usual:

The procedure has been the same for decades: soldiers, lined-up in one of the castle's courtyards, swear to defend their homeland, shouting out the oath of allegiance after an officer. Only the text of the oath is always different, as the regimes come and go.

The ceremony on the 28th of October went to plan, until the commanding officer recited an old version of an oath which was updated almost a year ago. Thus, the soldiers swore to "defend the Czech Republic's liberty and independence" instead of to "defend the Czech Republic against attacks from outside". Not a BIG difference, indeed. Yet, one would expect the army knows what it's actually supposed to be defending.

The Czech Defence Ministry was unable to explain the mistake or say who was responsible. Perhaps, the ceremonial atmosphere made the officers nervous. However, despite the deplorable mistake, the soldiers will not have to repeat their oath. The Defence Ministry says it is important what the soldiers subsequently sign and not what they say. The written text was reportedly OK--a happy ending to the whole affair.

The young Czech recruits were definitely more fortunate than their colleagues in Slovakia. On the same day, at Bratislava Castle, the Slovak president heard them swear allegiance to "the socialist homeland and the Constitution of the Slovak Socialist Republic". Perhaps the old regime the Czech and Slovak Republics shared for forty years is somewhat deeper rooted in the eastern part of the former federation.