Saturday, 13 November 2010

Last Wreath Laying of the Year.

November 11th, Armistice Day (the end of World War One), is the last and the most well attended of all the wreath layings in Cormatin’s complicated wreath laying year. As all my blog followers will have noted we attend all five with enthusiasm. Each one is different in character, not only because of the different group of people each one attracts, but because of the inevitable confusion surrounding the organisation.

All went very smoothly this time, the flowers were found, the flag was found, a replacement flag carrier was found (our usual flag carrier had broken his leg), the new CD player was found and Monsieur P had been having lessons in its use. He confidently pressed play and we were treated to the trumpet introduction to a tune that wasn’t the Marseillaise. Monsieur P calmly leant down and restarted the CD and we were able to hear the end of the national anthem. There were whispers of “wrong CD” from the chap standing next to me, but further all went well. This time, contrary to what we should have been doing, it was announced that we were all off the Bois Dernier memorial which is a Second World War memorial, no complaints from anyone, no “what does the Mayor think he is doing?”, no "jamais, jamais, jamais" and above all no irritated mutterings between the Mayor and Monsieur P - all was going according to their plan.

Off we went, Cees on his bike got there long before the rest of us had walked to the car park, had complicated discussions about who was going in which car and eventually we made it to the memorial. Again confidence was shown by Monsieur P who this time played a different and full version of the Marseillaise to which he dutifully sang along (we heard one female voice as well, but couldn’t identify where it was coming from). So not only had he been practising with the CD player, but he had found himself two versions of the national anthem, the long and the short version so that we can have a different one at each monument - Bravo Monsieur P!

Still a bit puzzled about the change of venue when all was revealed. Whilst the Mayor reads out the official government speech at the memorial in Cormatin, Monsieur P always gives a speech at the Bois Dernier memorial. We had the usual thank yous, particularly to the children who came and the school teacher who was there for the first time - it is important that they grow up understanding the meaning behind these days of remembrance and that they realise the sacrifices made for their current way of life. The real reason for the visit to the Bois Dernier memorial was then revealed. We were there to mark the 40th anniversary of the death of de Gaulle, who died on 9th November 1970. He was the leader of the Free French Forces from London during the war and he was the inspiration to the French people and the resistance movement during the German occupation.

Back to the Blés d’Or for Kir and nibbles and talk of how the unknown soldier was chosen and the wagon used to sign the German capitulation. A successful morning. I do wonder though what things will be like when Monsieur P is no longer there to talk the youngsters through real living history, how long will these ceremonies carry on when there is no one left who remembers any of it?

La Tuilerie Website.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...