Our damp V-E Day ceremony

Today (Tuesday, May 8) is a national holiday here. No, not to celebrate the election of a new President, but rather to mark Victory in Europe Day, the end of World War II. Whenever we’ve been able, my wife and I have attended the Huit Mai ceremony in Daglan, and today’s assembly was easily the smallest we’ve seen.

Part of the problem of the low attendance may have been the weather. As I’ve mentioned  several times in Radio Free Daglan, we’ve been having a fairly bad spell — completely unlike the spring of 2011. We’ve gone from a very cold winter (especially in February) to a spring that’s marked by days upon days of grey skies and lots of rain.

Within the past week, we’ve had some thunderstorms, and even hail. They weren’t large enough to do any damage, but hail is still fairly rare in the Greater Daglan Area. Those little crystal balls you see in the photo below are some hailstones that landed on one of our stone window sills:

Hailstones

No, they’re not mothballs. They’re hailstones!

In any case, weather may have played a part in today’s poor showing. It wasn’t raining at 11:30, when the ceremony began, but the skies were certainly grey. Here’s how the event began, with our Mayor, some officials, and a few residents walking from the Mairie (the Mayor’s office) to the war memorial that stands in front of Le Petit Paris:

Marching

A small parade, complete with CD player for the national anthem.

Once the officials were in place, and a few of us residents were standing under a tree watching them, the ceremony began.  It started with the raising of the flag:

Flag-raising

Raising the French flag to begin the ceremony.

With the flag raised on its pole, the Mayor and another woman placed a bouquet of flowers at the foot of the war memorial:

Laying flowers

A bouquet is placed carefully at the war memorial.

Next came the speeches. First, one of Daglan’s war veterans read a speech made by General de Gaulle at the end of the war:

Veteran

The French flag is well represented around the memorial.

Then it was the Mayor’s turn, reading a lengthy speech that described the war and the eventual victory (although, once again, the roles played by the Americans, British, Canadians, Australians and others were conspicuous by their absence). Here is Madame Le Maire:

Mayor speaking

The Mayor reads her speech to a rapt — but small — audience.

The last steps included observing a minute of silence and then playing the national anthem on a CD player; that didn’t go all that smoothly, since no one seemed to know exactly how it worked. But eventually the song was played, and in less than 15 minutes the ceremony was over.

Then our Mayor invited us to join her for a complimentary apéritif at Le Bistroquet, the bar at the south end of Daglan. She concluded by thanking us for attending — and also made a rather cutting reference to the village councillors who had not bothered to show up.

As always, my wife and I were glad we went. Chatting with one of our neighbours at Le Bistroquet later, we both got the “thumbs up” sign when we could identify various départements by the numbers on the licence plates of passing cars. Local knowledge can be hard to develop, but it’s appreciated.

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This entry was posted in French government and politics, Life in southwest France, Restaurants in the Dordogne, Weather in the Dordogne and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Our damp V-E Day ceremony

  1. Sam and Jill says:

    What? No special thanks and medals to the resident Daglanese Yanks/Canucks for saving Europe from the Huns?

    No wonder it’s a small turnout.

  2. loren24250 says:

    Sam & Jill — Nope, not even a tip of the hat. However, at last summer’s festival parade, when the theme was the Liberation, there were lots and lots of American flags, symbols, equipment, and so on. But apparently the U.S. was the only country in WWII fighting alongside the French.

  3. Lesley says:

    Probably due to the large-ish number of ex UK fulltime residents in our village, we have the Union Flag with almost equal billing on the War Memorial. The speeches are always given at such a rate of knots ( and with poor amplification) that I am not sure if due credit is given to the Allies. As in Daglan, the turnout was down this year but it should be better on November 11th. The vin d’honneur afterwards always helps.

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