We were gathering at Daglan’s war memorial this morning, as 11 a.m. approached, and I said to one of our neighbours: “A perfect day for this, I think.” Just then, the sun peeked through the clouds a bit and my neighbour replied with a smile. “Ah yes, perfect,” she said. “I hope the sun stays here.”
Her comment was just fine, but in fact I hadn’t been referring to the sun coming out. I meant that the otherwise grey day seemed just right for what I regard as a meaningful, necessary, but still very sad day. Seems to me that November 11 is a day that should always be grey.
The gathering this year was relatively small; our Mayor was away on vacation, and other officials filled in. The ceremony began with flowers being placed in front of the memorial, and the French flag being raised. Here’s a look:
As always, reading out the names of those villagers who were lost in World Wars I and II was another step in the ceremony. As each name was read out, we said quietly: “Mort pour la France,” which is to say “Died for France.” Here is a look at the reading of the names:
After the speech was given — providing some history of the war, and how peace was achieved — a bugler played La Marseillaise, and the small crowd sang along. Here is the bugler in front of the memorial:
The ceremony is short — perhaps just 15 minutes or so. As I wrote at the start of this posting, I do appreciate the ceremony on November 11 each year (as well as the May 8 ceremony, marking the end of the Second World War). My wife Jan and I attend both ceremonies in the village, whenever we can.
What I regard as particularly sad is not just the memories of those who lost their lives in previous conflicts, but the fact that vicious conflicts keep happening. All around our world.