Tuesday, November 11, 2008

WWI Truce Celebration

Today is a holiday in France. We celebrate the end of World War I which ended precisely November 11, 1918 at eleven o'clock. This truce (armistice) was signed by Marechal Foch in a train carriage specially fitted for this occasion (this same carriage was also used in 1940 by Hitler to sign the rendition of France). For the first time there will not be any Poilus (that is what we call the soldiers who fought this war) at the ceremony as, like reported previously on PDP, the last French witness of this war died last Mars at the age of 110.


  1. You are just everywhere all at once, aren't you, Eric?

    I wonder what they are discussing. It looks heated!

    And may I say, nice, ummm, pants.

  2. I remember your post, Eric. Our (UK) oldest serving man is now 112. He has been on tv a lot recently and remembers like yesterday. Amazing, these men who fight and died for us. I too have posted about Armistice. I like the tilt on your shot.

  3. We observe the day too, but now call it Veterans' Day. I like the uniquely French military cap.

  4. Maybe that is what they are discussing, uselaine - whose hat is more quintessential! I love them both.

    I like that Veterans' Day is one of those holidays that the government doesn't move to Monday just for the convenience of it.

    Are there any other French traditions for this day?

  5. Veterans Day will be tomorrow for us. One of my great-grandfathers fought in WWI but he passed away a number of years ago. I remember him fondly. Both of my grandfathers fought in WWII and one of them is still alive and has the most amazing recollection of the events.

    It does appear that the men in the photo are in earnest discussion!

  6. I think it's great that it's a holiday by the way. We don't get that, although we have another ceremony on the Sunday just past - Remembrance Sunday so I suppose that covers it for people at work. Two minutes' silence on Sunday and two today. Eric do you stay silent for two minutes in France to remember them?

  7. Nice tribute today Eric and the gentlemen are quite animated! Sad that the heroes we all revere are no longer with us.

  8. Pretty cool. Is there a Parade of some sort on the Champs or just around the Arc de Triomphe?

    It seems to me that November 11 is widely followed in France but not as much here in the US, at least not in the Bay Area. We celebrate Veterans' Day on November 11, too, but for a lot of private companies, sadly, it's business as usual.

  9. One of my grandfathers fought in WW1 - but I do not remember him talking about it.

    I think it is great that the soldiers that fought in this war are still remember today. And I find it sad (or amazing) that this is the first year there is no one there who served in The War to End All Wars

  10. Do Parisians still clean ancestors' graves on Armistice Day?

  11. Eric -- I love it when you give us history (and I love the little triangle of flag visible in the photo -- great composition all around).
    BTW, Eric, re the Palace and what I told you in NY -- we were copines B.D. (before disco). I wasn't in Paris from the early '70s until 1997!
    And way to go, GF Suzy!

  12. Tomorrow is Veteran's Day here in the States, but you never really hear about any big remembrances or anything in particular. There was one in Washington a few years ago when the WWII monument was finished. I'm glad to see that people all over the world remember a time in World History that people sacrificed their lives. Great shot, Eric.

  13. While walking around Paris yesterday, I couldn't understand why some stores said they would be closed today. Then this am I went to my local cafe and I was the only one there for a while. That is when I found out it was the holiday.
    To answer your question ET Suzy, I then noticed bouquets of flowers wrapped in a ribbon that said Marie de Paris, in front of some establishments, in honor of the war dead.
    UKLynn , I saw some of those red poppy flowers in honor of the British soldiers, on thelapels of some Brits who were on a holiday in CDG.
    A final comment, WHAT A TRIBUTE to OBAMA I saw in windows! From WH SMITH, to magazine covers, to a lingerie shop
    featuring a red white and blue bra with the same in striped panties and garder belt. I have pictures of it all!
    Then I stepped in French dog poop--I have to complain somewhere--thank goodness for the water that flows on the side of the curbs!!!

  14. The solemnity of the occasion seems to be honoured in Europe to a greater extent than here in the US, if I can use bloggers post as evidence. Far more Europeans have posted tributes to this special day, or so it seems. We acknowledge the day, but it doesn't feel the same as it did when I was a child.

  15. Katie it's true. We made a much bigger deal back then. Maybe it's because I lived in a small town. But there will be speeches in Washington, and much made of it at Arlington National Cemetery I'm sure.

    This is a cool picture, Eric. I love that you caught them mid-conversation.

  16. The last American alive to have fought in World War One is a man named Frank Buckles, and was recently pictured in front of the Renault tank in the National World War One museum in the United States. The museum (my post about it is on my blog) does a good job of telling the story from all sides of the war. I plan on visiting Verdun this December. It's important to remember the history, and this is a good, fitting post.

  17. Mistakenly posted yesterday: Carrie! Have a fabulous time in Paris. Shopping the markets for veggies. What a simple pleasure. Walking the islands. Is it cold? Does it matter?

    Hey, PHX: why don't you and Carrie meet while you are there?

    Yes, we have the day off from work on November 11. I can use the rest. Remembering two grandfathers who fought in WWI. Both Marines. One was gassed, but somehow lived ok. They never told war stories, but one loved France, told stories of every town he 'visited', about the cafés and food and wine and people who loved the Americans.

  18. Thank you to all the soldiers out there who fight for what they believe in and risk their lives to protect the rest of us.

    Today is also my nephew's birthday! Happy birthday Micah!!!

  19. Jeff, I unfortunately didn"t know Carrie was in Paris till I got back last night.
    This is important. The library of Congress is compiling videos of veterns of ALL wars. They want them to talk about their experiences, for reserchers and scholars. I taped my 93 yr. old father"s stories about WW2. Not only is it important historically, but I found out some fascinating information, one fact of which I will share with you, The Japanese interred foreign civilians in THEIR camps! For some reason, we in America, only heard about our ugly history of interring Japanese families.
    Last month at dinner, we heard about Thib's family experience of WW1. Our families have so much to share.
    Not everything is illustrious. My brother-in-law was a lifeguard at China Beach in Vietnam. Really!(we found this out when the TV program started in the US years ago. I called the local TV station and they filmed him for a promo of the new TV program!).

  20. Wow what interesting posts! Eric I love this photo, too - I think the hat is a kepi(?) and it is so French. I think also I see a bit of a handkerchief in front of the elderly gentleman's mouth - I imagine he's the son of a Poilu and the official is giving him encouragement and support. Its really a moving photo Eric. Yesterday I saw the bullet holes in the Central Police Station where, just before Paris was liberated in the WWII, a band of renegade police defied the Nazis and had a big shoot out with them that lasted several days. If you can find it, the film Is Paris Burning? is a wonderful version of this tale.today

    Its too bad I missed meeting you PHX - I didn't know you'd be here either! I've also seen tons of Obama stuff and was talking to the American owner of an expat store named Thanksgiving. She said she does about 200 dinners for Thanksgiving but that there was almost as big a rush of orders for people having Obama parties here in Paris - and it was Parisians wanting American food for their parties as well as expats.

    Today I rested my dogs since so many places were closed and took the St Martin canal boat tour. Feeling it was a very touristy thing to do, I was pleased to be the only English speaker I could hear. People like to wave from the sidewalks and wave back from the boats. The market was wonderful - no mmore Monoprix veggies unless its a disaster! And yes Jeff, its been on and off cold, but who cares! I took my camera to get some "color shots" of the fruit and veggies and vendors and came away embarrassed to take a single shot because the vendors were all so friendly, kind and helpful to me with my deplorable French that I felt I'd be imposing. I've been helped by so many friendly people here that I want to shout it from the rooftops. Eric is only one of his city's many ambassadors (one ambassador was a 10 year old boy who, grinning big, helped me out today). And, Jeff, yesterday as I sat behind Notre Dame an Asian man asked me to take a photo of he and his wife. Happy to, I obliged. They sat for a few minutes and got up to leave. When they did, she handed me three tiny origami swans!!! They couldn't speak English, but what a traveler's thank you. Isn't it great???!!!

  21. What a great thing to celebrate. Here, we're celebrating Veteran's Day. I guess it's kind of the same thing?

  22. Both of my grandfathers fought in France during WWI. It's important to remember those who served. BTW, it was called Armistice Day in the US until 1954 when it was changed to Veterans Day in order to honor all veterans.

  23. It's an important day in France. Too bad that we lost our last poilu this year...We still have a lot of written or shot testimonies, but that's not the same.

    Carrie,I hope you're having a nice time in Paris! Coincidence: you took a boat on the Canal Saint Martin, the pub where I work in on the Canal! Since I was working today and looked at all the boats, I probably saw you. ;)

  24. I have plenty of vets in my family -- some recent, from tours in Iraq. And my cousin John was just buried last week at Annapolis, with much pomp, fighter planes overhead, the 4-star commandant of the Marine Corps delivering his eulogy. In Vietnam, John pretty much single-handedly stopped 20,000 North Vietnamese troops from crossing a river into S. Vietnam. He did it by hanging from the underside of a bridge while the N. Vietnamese shot at him and he planted dynamite, lit the fuse, and got off the bridge seconds before it blew up.

  25. phx-cdg, Mercy for the walk around Paris -- that was amazing and sooo realistic!

    Brandon Darnell, Mercy for the name and info of the WWI American hero.

    phx-cdg, You are just a wealth of information today. I really enjoyed reading what you wrote about WWI and WWII.

    Carrie, "Paris Burning" wow, is that what that film is about -- mercy! And Mercy for the walking and boating tour around Paris today. BTW, "shout it from the rooftops" -- YES, I heard you last night -- WOW!

    Guille, If I were in Paris, I would definitely drop by the pub to toast our wonderful war heroes with you. Maybe Carrie can do it in my place :-)

  26. Merci Eric:)
    What a nice photo and a nice tribute to all of our veterans all over the world.I for one am epecially grateful for our Korean Veterans.
    {I'm Korean}

    Like someone has already mentioned I wonder what the 2 men are discussing?
    hmmm . mystery

    This looks like to be the Arch du Triomphe.Is that the other guy holding the French flag, or is he just simply a reporter?

    well let us never forget all of the fallen solider's.

  27. It's always a celebration when it is the end of war! Great capture.

  28. Quick question to Carrie. How long will you be here?

  29. Alexa: what a story! Amazing. I'm glad he received a hero's burial.

    Carrie, keep the stories coming! It's thrilling to travel with you, I jut love it. I'm so glad you're meeting so many friendly people. J'aime Paris et les Parisiens!

  30. Le dernier soldat français ayant participé à ce conflit est certes décédé mais je m'élève en faux contre l'affirmation de la disparition du Poilu Français !

  31. Eric -- I fly out of Paris on December 2d. I'd love to arrange a little PDP get together for those who can join. I think Virginia arrives on the 19th. Right now, I don't have any evening plans after the 19th.

    Guille! I can't believe you were right there! (I thought about you because I remembered you moved to that neighborhood, but I didn't know you worked right there!) Maybe I can talk you into coming out with us also -- since you've been peeking at me on the canal boat!!??


  32. A very moving day here in the UK too. There are only 3 British veterans left from WW1, all of whom attended the ceremony at the Cenotaph in London. The eldest chap who is 112, even tried to stand to place a wreath, but he was too frail to manage it and a soldier did it for him. That brought tears to my eyes.

  33. Alexa, your cousin is John Ripley? I wrote a paper about him for AW school...small world.

    Five of my six great-uncles fought in WWI; they drew straws to see which one would stay home to take care of my great-grandmother, just in case (this was before the Sullivan law was passed). Only one was Infantry (USMC); the other four were engineers.

    I think here in the US the importance of the Veteran's Day celebration depends on where you live. There are eleven thousand veterans in the county I live in, so we have a parade and a Memorial service, and all the schools and government offices are shut.

  34. What a great post, Eric. My husband commented when reading this that it will be strange when all of the WWII veterans are gone. That will be a sad day, just as it was a sad day when the last French gentleman of WWI died.

    Just let us never forget.