Sunday, May 25, 2014

Memorial Day, in France

For the second year, I represented AARO at the Memorial Day ceremony at the Esquadrille Lafayette Memorial in Marnes-la-Coquette yesterday. Why Saturday? Well, Memorial Day, the US holiday, is not celebrated here. Veterans Day, November 11, is for memorial. I spoke to an officer who was coordinating with the Mirage pilots for the flyover and he explained that Saturday was the only day that air traffic control could clear the passage for the flyover. The 4 jets did indeed fly over, at precisely 11:01, but because of the cloud cover, we didn't see anything. We could hear them, though. The rain came and went several times during the ceremony.
The speeches were excellent. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I. I especially appreciated hearing the mayor of Marnes-la-Coquette, Mme. Barody-Weiss, again. As she did last year, she gave two different, but similar speeches in French and English. One is not the translation of the other. The texts she quotes from are different, but you can tell that time was spent finding texts with similar messages and composing the two speeches. The US Ambassador was represented by the excellent Chargé d'Affaires, Mr. Mark Taplin. In fact, we still do not have an ambassador, here, in France, since Mr. Rivkin left. He, Mr. Taplin, spoke movingly about 100 years ago, in May, how no one was really expecting war, but the world wasn't dormant, how quickly the young men of this group switched gears from whatever they were doing to join the French forces. Would we (or rather the young people of today, 16, 17, 18 years old) do the same? After all, we are not at war, but the world is not dormant.
There were other fine speeches and the ceremony was not boring, nor did it seem like anyone was itching to leave because of the rain.
Here are some photos from the day:
Flowers from AARO

The US Air Force color guard, arriving

After the speeches.. That's me, behind the speaker, laying down the cushion of flowers from AARO

Taps

The US Air Force color guard, departing

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