Today it’s a national holiday in France to commemorate the dead of World War I which ended 93 years ago. At the mairie in Cortambert we met up with a goodly number of neighbours and followed the firemen down to the memorial. The firemen lined up while we watched the Maire install the bowl of flowers. Then time for the bugle call and the message from President Sarkozy.
The President meanwhile was taking time out from the imploding economy, the misinformation about the triple A rating and the growing certainty that François Hollande will be the President next year. He was paying homage to the unknown soldier at the Arc de Triomphe and being photographed hand in hand with the children of soldiers recently killed in Afghanistan.
This year we were surprised by his message.
Until now Armistice Day in France has just honoured the fallen from WWI. Now Sarkozy wants to include all those who have been killed in Indochina, Suez and north Africa, as well as the Balkans, the middle East, the Ivory Coast and Afghanistan. Apparently this has enraged the north African veterans and the former French colonies especially Algeria and Vietnam.
The President has also annoyed the British. This week he opened a 30 million euro museum at Meaux, not too far from Disneyland. The artefacts on display were collected over a lifetime by a WW1 enthusiast, Jean-Pierre Verney. The problem is that it exaggerates France’s role in the war to the exclusion of its allies. I’ve just heard on the news tonight a minister explaining that “Germany did not lose the war but France won it”. There is a large section on the Americans and their influence, namely chewing gum, but the British and the Commonwealth troops are hardly mentioned despite them being blown to pieces for three years before the Americans joined in. This is a little bit like the incident when the President forgot to invite the Queen to the commemoration of the D-D landings.
Anyway our remembrance service ended with an invitation from the Maire to share the vin d’amité. The event was enjoyed by all; you’ll find no difference of opinion here.
By the way, here’s a preview of next year’s calendar. As most of the pompiers were together this morning it was a good opportunity to get some photos.