Today is the 8th of May, and it’s a national holiday in France. Huit Mai, as it’s known, marks Victory in Europe day, which took place 68 years ago.
Each year, when we’ve been in the village, my wife Jan and I have joined the small group in Daglan’s Place de la Liberté to remember those who died liberating France and the rest of Nazi-occupied Europe. I wrote about this on May 8 of last year, in “Our damp V-E Day ceremony.”
As you’ll see, this isn’t a major happening — I counted just 30 people standing around the war memorial, in front of the restaurant Le Petit Paris, listening to the speeches and eventually singing the national anthem. But it’s a solemn event and it certainly marks a period of history that shouldn’t be forgotten.
What follows is a brief photographic record of today’s ceremony.
Just before 11:45 in the morning, a few civic officials and war veterans marched the short distance from the Mairie, the Mayor’s office, and prepared for the ceremony at the war memorial. This included placing a bouquet at the foot of the flag pole, and then raising the French flag, the tricolour. Here’s how it looked:
The flag is then clipped to the line that will raise it up the pole:
Hoisting the flag now begins:
And here it is, waving gently in a light breeze, against this morning’s cloudy sky:
Here, one of the civic officials reads a prepared statement about the war and the eventual defeat of the Nazis:
Then comes a minute of silence, followed by the singing of La Marseillaise, the national anthem.
The idea is that the group will sing along to an instrumental version of the anthem, played on a portable CD player. Of course, this wouldn’t be a Huit Mai ceremony in Daglan unless there was a problem with the player, which no one ever seems able to operate properly. And sure enough, despite an awful lot of poking of buttons, the player refused to play. But to their credit, the villagers still sang a pretty hearty version of La Marseillaise.