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A Celebration 100 Years in the Making

November 11th, 2018 · No Comments · France, Languedoc

At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, in 1918, World War I came to an end.

That is, the long and bloody war ended at 11 a.m. on November 11.

One hundred years later, France celebrated its century-old victory over Germany by instructing all churches to ring their bells for 11 minutes, beginning at 11 a.m.

It was the centieme anniversaire de l’armistice. (The 100th anniversary of the Armistice.)

That marked the start of festivities and remembrances throughout France, including in our village in the south of the country — where a significant fraction of the population gathered in the town square.

The population here is about 650. A crowd I would peg at 150 took part in the activities.

A parade began in front of city hall, led by two veterans carrying  French flags and followed by the children who attend the town’s two-room school, who brought an ancient battle flag with them.

They were followed by the mayor and city council, a choir and finally by citizens and interested visitors and expats.

The sun made an appearance, and it was bright and glorious for a few hours, time enough to get through the program at the entry to the town, where the memorial to the 22 men from the town who died during the war is located.

The mayor read a proclamation from the president, the assistant mayor read an abbreviated history of the war and a poem to the fallen soldiers was read.

As the names of the dead were read out, school kids carried carnations to the foot of the memorial statue and placed them there.

Then it was time for the kids and choir to sing the national anthem, the Marseillaise (see video, above), and that concluded the formal portion of the activities.

Many of the participants repaired to the salle de fete (party room) for wine and some nibbles, and others remained for Sunday brunch. If they were so inclined, the citoyens could admire a private collection of century-old posters and newspapers and letters from the front lines.

It was a fine lineup of activities, particularly given the modest size of the village. But it demonstrated how important Armistice Day has been since 1918 and right on through its centenary, in 2018.





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