Izmir, Turkey


Romanian National Day

The first day of December is a Romanian holiday, National Day, which commemorates the union of the Romanians of Bessarabia, Bukovina and Transylvania into the Kingdom of Romania in 1918.  For exercise participants, 1 December was a cultural day, during which tours were offered.  One tour destination was Bran Castle, perhaps the biggest attraction in southern Transylvania. Erected in the 14th century, legend has it that this was the Castle of Dracula - the Vlad Dracula who ruled Wallachia between 1456 and 1462.  Prince Vlad treated his enemies so cruelly that he acquired the nickname Dracula, which means devil.  The legend of Dracula and Bran Castle was immortalized in the late 19th Century by novelist Bram Stoker, who wrote the famous novel vaguely inspired by the Prince.  Below are several images of Bran Castle taken on Romanian National Day.

(All photos by Sergeant Omer Cankaya)


LEFT:  At the base of the mountain on which Bran Castle sits are numerous merchants selling linens, woodwork and other items from that part of Romania.


RIGHT: Before visiting Bran Castle, those on the tour visited a living history exhibit at the base of the castle.  Pictured in the foreground, center, are Brigadier General Petre Botezatu and Major General Zannie Smith.


LEFT: Following the visit to Bran Castle, tour participants stopped in Predeal, Romania for dinner.  From left to right, Brigadier General Rifki Durusoy, Brigadier General Can Teller, Major General Zannie Smith and Brigadier General Petre Botezau offer a pre-dinner toast to tour participants.