We’ve been having a bit of stormy weather. This morning, a rain-with-lightning storm woke us up before dawn, including a particularly vicious clap of thunder at almost exactly 6 a.m., seemingly right over our house. This did not bode well for our village’s 8 mai ceremony, set to begin at 10:30 a.m.
The May 8th holiday commemorates Victory in Europe Day, marking the end of the war with Germany in 1945, exactly 70 years ago.
Fortunately, by the time the ceremony began, the lightning was gone, and there was only intermittent drizzle. It may have discouraged some villagers from attending, but it didn’t ruin the ceremony at all.
As usual, my wife Jan and I were there. Those of us in the relatively small crowd stayed huddled under umbrellas and awnings, but the dignified ceremony took place without a hitch.
It began with the arrival of a small procession from the Mairie, led by the village’s Mayor. Here he is with his tricolour sash, followed by the flag bearer and some elected officials, arriving at the war memorial in front of the restaurant Le Petit Paris:
Early in the ceremony, two of our deputy mayors placed an arrangement of flowers in front of the memorial:
Then our Mayor read from the proscribed text, describing the horrors of World War II, and the eventual victory of the French (led by General de Gaulle, who seemingly accomplished the defeat of the Germans single-handedly). A moment of silence was then observed:
Through the ceremony, a trumpeter was on hand to play various pieces, including France’s national anthem, La Marseillaise. Here he is:
The small crowd at the ceremony did a pretty good job of singing along as he played. I confess that I still don’t know the anthem, although I have made a brave stab at singing it when I’m able to hold a sheet with the lyrics.
In fairness, I think it’s much easier to learn an anthem or any other song when you’re young, and I imagine that many in our village learned La Marseillaise in school. On the other hand, I know all the words to Little Deuce Coupe by the Beach Boys, and I’m probably the only Daglan resident who can make that claim.