A group of young arabs smoke marijuana on the steps while a gaggle of hippies has their confab in a sharing circle on the other side of the station. Neon blue lights streak across the concrete slabs in front of the Lausanne-Flor metro station where a family pushes a stroller between the two groups. It appears to be a local man with his parents and Asian wife.

Lausanne is primarily a college town located about an hour by train from Geneva, Switzerland. The city mixes the traditional architecture of the old city almost seamlessly with the modern glass and metal of bridges and elevators. With the highest density of trains to people anywhere in the world, public transportation is always on time—putting the subways of New York City to shame.

Interrupting the pedestrians at Lausanne-Flor is a group of Swiss soldiers. Wearing their woodland camouflage uniforms and berets, they shout at each other in French, hurrying to buy a few beers in plastic cups for the trip to their next destination before the metro arrives. Nobody pays them much mind, though. They are not rude or rowdy, just doing the things that soldiers do the world over. Besides, they are a part of a military tradition stretching back hundreds of years.

Unlike America, it is not uncommon to see Switzerland’s citizen-soldiers walking the streets in uniform. They keep their Army-issued SIG 550 rifle in their bedrooms at home, in the trunks of their cars, and carry them on the metro on the way to complete their required military service. None of this is astounding or even interesting to the Swiss people.