Chapter 10: Flower Power
All they could see when they arrived in Portugal were people – thousands of them. It felt as if they were in the centre of the biggest gig ever to be staged, but the chanting and atmosphere told them that something far more serious was happening. There were shouts in the streets and people singing. The tweens didn’t understand the language, but they could tell the people were singing for freedom and democracy. It was a sunny day, a few clouds, but they could smell freedom in the air. It was electric. It was a day that Portuguese people and future generations of this nation would always feel very proud of.
‘The Carnation Revolution – in Portuguese: Revolução dos Cravos,’ Kai began, shouting to be heard, ‘was a leftist military coup which started on the 25th of April 1974, here in Lisbon, Portugal, coupled with an extensive campaign of civil resistance, totally unexpected by the government. These events successfully changed the Portuguese regime from a dictatorship ruled by António de Oliveira Salaza to a free democracy, and produced massive changes in the economic, social and political structure of Portugal.’
‘All I heard was bla bla bla!’ Pacman said. ‘What’s a leftist military coup? What’s civil resistance? What’s free democracy? Why can’t we go to the video game expo now?’
‘Because you chose the last place,’ Jodie screamed to be heard. ‘Anyway, this is awesome. Basically all of these people are protesting peacefully for change in their country and it worked.’
‘Ahh!’ Pacman said, now comprehending.
‘And look at this,’ Kai said, leading them over to the soldiers. They watched as a protester placed a carnation down the barrel of the soldier’s gun. ‘This is how it came to be known as the Carnation Revolution.’
The sight brought tears to Jodie’s eyes. The sentiment was so peaceful and full of love. And it was such a beautiful city and a beautiful day. After the short time that they had spent in the dark, dank sadness of World War II, this was a great relief. But Pacman had other things on his mind.
‘I don’t believe it,’ he said. ‘More Globestoppers.’
He was right. Just by the soldier’s feet were another five of the globe-shaped gobstoppers. It surely wasn’t possible. Thankfully, no one seemed to have noticed them.
‘We’d better grab them and run,’ said Jodie, which they did and they eventually found a quiet clearing in which to speak to each other.
From a distance they could see the crowds clearly. Thousands of people holding red carnations joined revolutionary soldiers on the streets of Lisbon, in joy and elation. Red was a symbolic colour for Socialism and Communism; the hustle in the streets was incredible. It was a spectacular sight to see; not one bullet was fired and people were so happy.
‘So, what’s dictatorship again?’ Pacman asked.
‘It’s where one person runs a country and the people have no say in what happens, no votes or anything. They are completely at the mercy of whoever is in charge. Some of the most horrific atrocities in history happened because too much power was given to too few people.’
‘But this shows that people are powerful when they come together,’ Pacman commented.
‘It certainly does.’
‘What a day,’ breathed Kai.
‘Yup, brilliant!’ Jodie beamed.
They stood in the square watching the soldiers and the people on their protest. Suddenly a woman came up to Jodie and handed her a carnation. Jodie smiled and nodded in thanks.
‘Wow!’ she said.
‘Now that’s a souvenir!’
‘It’s going straight in my journal,’ Jodie added, remembering the book for the first time in a long time. She had lots to write in her journal now. And this was one book that she would never get rid of. It was an important historical document. Because of the book ban, there were so few books in her own time. But the stupid leaders don’t seem to have thought about what would happen if everything digital crashed. What if no one could use their eReaders and iPad50s anymore? It would be a disaster, but, on the other hand, people would be queuing at her door to see her book collection, especially her historical journal. Yes, everyone would be sorry then, especially her parents.
Being in Portugal was something they would not forget. The fact that a country could change a government without violence was spectacular indeed. A strong and true nation. In an old motto used by the Nation of Portugal it says, ‘Orgulhosamente sós’ – ‘Proudly alone,’ which speaks volumes.