Saturday, February 4, 2012

Lessons from our Swiss Friends

A home in a Swiss village.

     Last night I dreamt that my family and I were visiting some friends of ours.  We met these friends twenty years ago when our children were small and we still lived in suburban Virginia.  Our friends were from Switzerland and they were here in the United States because the husband, an engineer, had been transferred to Virginia from his position in Switzerland.  They raised their children here, and as the husband moved up in the ranks of his company, the wife worked as mostly a foreign language teacher, at the local high school.  I remember also that she was a Master Gardener. They were wonderful friends to us, and provided a very fine template for us to follow in many areas.  In my dream, they were showing us their mountain home in which they had food and supplies neatly stocked in nooks and crannies throughout their home. In the dream, my family and I found comfort  in reconnecting with them.
            My husband's family was originally Swiss and so it was especially fitting that we be befriended by a family from "the Old Country".  They brought a lot of the practical and intelligent thinking from Switzerland as well. They kept an immaculate and organized home which I admired, and they were interested in eating well and in good health. They made time for exercise long before most Americans did.  They were also recycling everything in the United States before anyone else.  I remember that in their guest bedroom, in mounted on frames, were multiple badges for each of them in many areas for their efforts in the Swiss Military.  In Switzerland, all men must serve some time in the military.  This ensures that all of them know about self defense, weaponry, and that in an emergency of any kind,  virtually every man is a soldier, if even in retirement.  Women may serve in the military voluntarily for the same reasons, and our female friend did as well in her youth. It also provides the offshoot of everyone knowing how to start young adulthood in exceptional physical shape due to exercise, and this probably provides a pattern for continued good living throughout life.

  Information about the organization and the objectives of the Swiss Military.  It's quite impressive.

 The Swiss Military offer a variety of services.  They provide national defense services, support of civilian authorities, promotion of peace within an international context, and training and action with regard to all aspects of civil defense. This also includes medical services.   As Switzerland is neutral, they have no alliances, and therefore feel they must be in exceptional fighting form.  They also have an exceptional Swiss Army Liquidation Store.  Of course I hear that post 1995, the Swiss Army underwent a broadly sweeping set of reforms in terms of organization, weaponry, and uniforms so our friends may not as easily recognize their military now.

     Consistent with the Swiss tradition of frugality and repurposing everything, UK designer Christopher Raeburn in tandem with Victorinox has repurposed a number of military clothing items and recycled them as high fashion items.  This is the link.

Interestingly, I think these Swiss Military clothes are actually "repurposed" in the UK.

You must admit that the Swiss design is practical and very attractive. I would wear something like this myself.

The Raeburn repurposed Swiss Army clothing is actually quite expensive. Perhaps you might like to look for some Swiss Army surplus.

     The Swiss have some almost unique views of the world, and you can read about some of them here:

         Eventually, as their children grew and went to college, our friends were transferred again, first to the West Coast, and ultimately back to Europe.  For a time we corresponded via e-mail, but about  four years ago we lost touch, they moved again, and I do not have their current address.  I am hoping ultimately that friends in common mention us to them, or that we find them one way or another, perhaps even on the internet.  I hope my dreaming of them was a sign that we will hear from them again soon, and that all is well.  If I were to speak with them, I would catch them up on our sad news, and on our good news, and thank them for the examples they set and for their good common sense perspectives as our children were growing.

Swiss soldiers on a hike.

This is an excellent source for military surplus supplies including some things used in the Swiss military. This company sells internationally as well as to the US

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