A remembrance of le Jour Armistice

Today we celebrated Jour Armistice, or Armistice Day (Remembrance Day, if you will). This is a solemn national holiday in France, as the impact of World War I on towns and villages like Daglan was catastrophic.

Over the years, my wife and I had taken part in several Huit mai (May 8th) ceremonies in Daglan, honouring the end of World War II in Europe (V-E Day) , but this was our first Jour Armistice. It began with the ringing of the church bells at 11 a.m. At 11:30, there was a procession from the Mairie (the Mayor’s office) to the monument to the dead, immediately in front of Le Petit Paris. Aptly (I think) it was raining lightly as one of the village elders, accompanied by a group of school children, read out the names of all the Daglanaise who had fallen in the war. After each name, we all said together, “Mort pour la France” (killed for France). Here is the group:

Jour Armistice ceremony in Daglan, France

Gathered around the memorial, at the heart of Daglan

And then our Mayor read the prescribed text, describing the war and its impact. Here she is:

The Mayor of Daglan, Armistice Day, 2010

Madame le Maire reads to the group

Following her speech, we had the wonderful experience of listening to the school children singing the national anthem, The Marseillaise, accompanied by a violin player — who played very well, it should be noted.

Playing and signing The Marseillaise

Led by a violin, the children sang The Marseillaise

After the ceremony at the monument, the crowd was led off to the village cemetery, to visit the graves of those lost in the war. Here they are:

The cemetery in Daglan, France

Visiting the graves of the fallen

As is traditional at this time of the year, the graves at cemeteries throughout France are decorated with chrysanthemums (which is why you should never bring that flower as a gift when someone has invited you for dinner — it’s just not done). Here is what the flowers look like, up close:

Graves decorated with flowers, Daglan, France

Chrysanthemums on the graves in Daglan

Of course, this wouldn’t be Daglan if ceremonies were sombre and solemn. So off we jolly well went to Le Bistroquet, for a drink or two (courtesy of the village treasury — now here, finally, is a great use for public funds!), and then to the Salle des Fêtes for a lunch. A three-hour lunch, if you please, featuring soup of duck carcasses (with les carcasses passed around separately, for picking!), coquilles St Jacques, rare roast beef with potatoes and green beans, two types of cheese, and molten chocolate cakes with ice cream. Oh, and did I forget to mention the bottle after bottle of  red wine? And the white? And the digestifs afterwards? Hey — I can’t remember everything!

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4 Responses to A remembrance of le Jour Armistice

  1. Lesley says:

    It really is taken seriously and always on the ‘right’ day – non of this Sunday nearest so it doesn’t interfer with business! Daglan does it well especially the lunch, we have just a ‘vin d’honneur’ (thanks to our local taxes) and back home for lunch. Mind you we elderly, over 65 , get a very pleasant, long meal given in our honour in January. I wonder if that will change to 67 soon!

  2. Peter Howling says:

    Hi Guys,
    It sounds like a very moving experience in Daglan. I attended Remembrance Day in Whitby. Quite the turnout for a small town. The last post was played by an air cadet and it was a nice moment. Take Care, Pete

  3. Teri says:

    What a lovely service. Having wandered through, and been very touched by, the Daglan cemetery, I can only imagine how much more meaningful it would be on a day like that. On another, slightly related, note, check out this video. Apparently, the “eyes right” command is a form of respect shown to the high ranking people watching. A tear-jerker, in this case. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDMzHlkB-Yg

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