Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Armistice Day

Armistice Day had special resonance in France this year as Europe commemorates the centenary of the beginning of the First World War.  In Paris, ceremonies began at 9:00 a.m. with the laying of wreaths at the memorial to students arrested by the occupying Germans for marching on the Champs-Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe on November 11, 1940.

At 10:00 a.m. wreaths were laid at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the Arc de Triomphe.

At 11:00 a.m. President François Hollande led a ceremony of national commemoration at the Arc de Triomphe.

In the afternoon, President Hollande inaugurated the ring of memory, a new international memorial at Notre-Dame-de-Lorette in Pas-de-Calais listing the names of almost 600,000 soldiers who died on the battlefields of Flanders and Artois during the First World War.  In Paris, dignitaries from Belgium, the Czech Republic, Greece, Italy, Poland, Russian, Spain, and Slovakia joined Parisian city officials in paying homage to foreign soldiers who died fighting for France.  The ceremony took place in Paris' largest and most famous cemetery, Le Père Lachaise, a stunningly beautiful park that is home to graves of such luminaries as Oscar Wilde, Max Ernst, Gertrude Stein, Maria Callas, and Alexandre Ledru-Rollin (about whom we posted earlier).

Throughout the day, people donned bleuets, the French symbol of commemoration of the First World War.  The blue flower was among the few to bloom in the muddy trenches, and matched the color of the French soldiers' uniforms.

Another rare flower to bloom in the trenches was the red poppy, symbol of war commemoration in Britain and Canada as inspired by the poem "In Flanders Fields."  This year, some four million visitors to the Tower of London have viewed "Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red," the outdoor installation of over 800,000 ceramic poppies, each symbolizing a soldier's death in World War I.

No comments:

Post a Comment