Images courtesy of CISM
Tucked away in the North-Western part of Italy lies Aosta Valley, a region with severely harsh climate conditions which was once occupied by a number of people groups including the Goths, Celts, Ligurians, Franks, and Lombards. Perhaps they picked this location for a reason, whether it be the difficult climate conditions, only to be braved by the bravest men and women around the world, or the sense that this has been a region that has been conquered by different kingdoms over time. From March 20th-25th, 2010, this was the location for the first Military World Winter Games, where participating nations from around the world come and compete in sporting events which include speed skating, cross country, and giant slalom.
Much like the Olympics, this is a gathering of a number of nations competing against each other for pride, glory, and all the gold coins. However, the Military World Winter Games is an event exclusively for military personnel. While you might think this is the Olympic on steroids, the atmosphere surrounding the event is not one of silent aggression, but more one of jovial fun as differing nations, cultures, and backgrounds collide to participate in friendly, yet competitive, sporting matches. While a number of military personnel who attend the games participate directly in the event, higher ranking officials often use this time to meet and share war stories, strategies, and meet to talk.
This sense of community is one that has been fostered over time and the Conseil International du Sport Militaire has been nurturing this growth since its inception in 1948. Beginning with Belgium, Denmark, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, today it now stands as the second largest sports body in the world only next in size to the International Organizing Committee.
Being a military member myself, I understand firsthand that the comradeship, intensive training, mental endurance and physical fitness of the military is often difficult to be shared and understood by others. Having a common thread and instant connection allows a group like this to relate and share experiences with each other that does not come about often. While they might not be making ‘love’ or war, seeing military groups from around the world conversing, laughing, and enjoying life is something that will benefit this nation as a whole. Perhaps if we had more gatherings like this, military powers around the world would have easily accessible open forums and promote greater discussion on worldwide issues that affect us all. I would much rather see our military leaders talking over critical global issues than warring over them. While perhaps my view and aspiration may be simplistic and naive in nature, it certainly has substance. What do you think?