Saturday, 25 February 2012

# 44 [11 November 2009]

I've just returned from an Armistice commemoration in our village - most of the villagers attended (about 20 people). Amidst a shambolic (and strangely entertaining) ceremony including a very loud and distorted recording of The Marseillaise played on the village tannoy the mayor read the following which was written by Hubert Falco (Secretaire d'Etat a la Defense et aux Anciens Combattants):

. . . peace, which seemed to have been acheived on the day following 11 Nov 1918 did not last. Twenty years later the Second World War broke out. The generations of people who suffered greatly during the Great War had to live again through terrible times.

Throughout the 20th Century, there have never been two nations who were so affected as France and Germany. Let us consider together the road travelled since the Second World War thanks to the work of the Franco/German fathers of reconciliation: Robert Schumann, the Adenauer Chancellor and General de Gaulle. There are no other nations in the world today other than France and Germany who are so driven by such an intense desire to pursue the establishment of a common future.

Franco-German reconciliation, the shared determination to build a united Europe, all of this is not being constructed on an attempt to forget or deny the past, but as a consequence of it.

Today the Pesident of the French Republic and the German Chancellor have come together in Paris. United, they respectfully honour the dead and the soldiers of the Great War. They are also celebrating the long-lasting links which France and Germany have sealed. For the greatest honour we can give to those who lost their lives in the First World War is to construct that which they hoped for but did not know or see: a reconciled Europe, a peaceful Europe.

Considering that a large proportion of the villagers in attendance were not French, this was met with some bewilderment, however, it was swiftly followed by an aperitif in the village hall. As we drank Pastis at 11.15 in the morning, nobody commented on the speech, rather, the topic of conversation was that good old favourite: the weather.

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