Tuesday, May 08, 2007

May 8: end of WW II

Today is May 8 and it's a holiday in France - yes, one more! We celebrate Armistice Day, the end of the war between the European countries fighting Nazism and Germany in 1945. On this occasion, the President of the Republic (who is still Chirac until May 16!) will put a spray of flowers on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier located under the Arch of Triumph. Every year it's always very moving.
PS: I'm back from vacation but it's late and I just want to go to bed! I will take advantage of this holiday to read your comments and reply to them.


  1. Les Français auront bien besoin d'une journee de repos pour recuper des emotions diverses d'hier ... j'en dis pas plus.

    Welcome back and make sure you park your bike some place safe, just in case. :)

  2. may peace stay with our precious world!

  3. Congratulations on choosing Sarkozy for your new President! Between the two choices, I believe (hope) that he is the best for the job.

    All France needs to do is allow flexibility to businesses in order for them to grow. Not give them the power that they have in the states (campaign contributions...ie: bribery in my view). In the U.S., corporations have too much power, in France, unions. Balance is best. I hope Sarkozy can do that.

  4. Sarko is quite a guy. TV5 has been reporting many things about him such as his childhood, his financial position when young, his grooming by Chirac whom he, Sarko, dumped, etc. etc. I am worried because bush was the first to call to congratulate him and is so happy for Sarko. Scarry!

  5. Hey, Mister Globe Trotter, I hope you managed to vote whilst you were away...

    Welcome back home.

  6. Maybe that's why he suddenly needed a (ridiculous in my view) retreat, Johnny!

  7. //I am worried because bush was the first to call to congratulate him and is so happy for Sarko. Scarry! //

    Looks like you're getting it, Johnny! :)

  8. Well, don't be scared because GW Bush may have been one of the first people to call and congratulate Sarko..Mr Bush needs ALL the friends he can round up right now..he's a lame duck!

    France is the world's 6th largest economy and US is #1, California is #5 or #6 depending on which study you read, and when they elect a leader they have several months to organize and rest and form a team for the transition. Sarko will be in the Elysee in less than a week...whether one likes him or not he is human and a rest might do him good! LOL!! He has parliamentary elections to deal with, and a cabinet to form. On the PBS networks in the US they have reported from Paris that he has promised that half of his cabinet will be women, so we will see! France has to cement it's place in the Global Economy of the 21st century...let us hope for the best! The election is over, so let us hope he has the best interests of all of France[as he says he does]at heart! Vive la France!!

  9. This is a great picture, Eric. Whenever I have visited this place, there are always flowers like this around the tomb. Is it that way all year around, or has it just been by chance?

  10. There was no "armistice" in 1945, but unconditionnal surrender of Germany.

    The armistice, now considered as infamous, was in 1940 between France and Germany.

    A small irony of history is that France, of all the victorious allies, is the only one where May 8 is a national holiday.

  11. Eric writes : "end of the war between Nazism and all European countries"..

    Maybe this is how history is taught in France...but remind me : what was the name of the country whose boys landed in Normandy in june 1944 ?

  12. Anonyme
    It is an hommage for soldiers who died from freedom. Both WWI and WWII. It will never be shameful to honour them.

  13. Anonyme
    So sorry, it is an hommage to 500.000 french soldiers and civilians too ! How stupid isn'it ?

  14. jmt : anonyme is right .For old man as i am , we will never forget these young american guys.

  15. This is a beautiful and thoughtful tribute to all! I like the composition of the memorial with the flame and flowers adding colour, just as all the young men from many different countries added to the action that ended the conflict. May those who "made the supreme sacrifice" rest in peace.

  16. Welcome home Eric.
    Hope you got a good night's sleep - not too jetlagged ?

  17. Exactly one year ago today I was arriving in Paris! Most everything was closed because of the holiday.

    I think everybody knows how important was the participation of the US to fight Germany and help the other countries in Europe.

  18. Also, I just read in the papers that yesterday there were more riots all over France provoked by those against Sarkozy. I don´t think these riots are happening because of what Ségoléne said, I think these people are expressing -in a very bad way - how they feel about the election. And it´s not the first time in the history of France that young people express themselves through riots.

  19. Democracy--and freedom--surely are enigmas. Eric is free to fly across the world, all he needs is a passport and some cash. We communicate via the internet, no censorship. Looking back, millions died in just the one war, a war against tyranny, for freedom. And not far from a poignant memorial, people riot because they dislike the result of a free election.

    What funny people.

    What was the name of the movie: the townspeople flee the invading ermans (WW I) and the residents of the insane asylum assume the roles of the 'normal' townsfolk. Then the Brit soldiers arrive, and the two armies slaughter each other within a minute. The "insane" woman looks down at the carnage and says: "What funny people."

  20. Ah. Immediately after my last post, I opened some mail. A brochure bears a quote from a Frenchman you might recognize.

    "Among democrtic nations each new generation is a new people."
    Alexis de Tocqueville

  21. Tomate. Yes, from what I heard there has been some riots in Bastille and other places but I don’t think they will last. I saw a burnt motorbike though… LOL

    Michelle. Don’t worry, so far, so good, but I have been back only a day!!

    Susan. Thank you for your congratulations. One thing is sure anyway, the relationship between France and the US should improve ;) As for the flexibility to businesses, well it’s hard for a French person to believe that because there will be more flexibility there will be more jobs. I wonder if our new President will dare going this way.

    Johnny. He surely is quite a guy, as Ségolène Royal was quite a girl too! You don’t achieve that level in politics unless you have superior qualities (starting with a good physical condition and resistance to stress!). From what I read his father left the family when he was very young and he was raised by his mother and a step father, which, at that time, was probably difficult. Actually Ségolène Royal had a tough childhood too. She even had to sue her father as a teenager because he would not support the family! Yes, Bush, must see in Nicolas Sarkozy a good way to reconnect with France and he probably needs as many friends as possible at the moment. However Nicolas Sarkozy said something like “I want to be friend with the US but I want the US to know that friends don’t always share the same point of view”. Quite clever.

    BV. Hey, long time no see, I haven’t visited your blog in ages, shame on me… Anyway, of course I voted – well my father voted for me, by proxy. I would never miss a vote.

    Lynn. Well I don’t know about this retreat. He’s in Malta, on a bought. I don’t believe one second that he is “in retreat”! He’s preparing his strategy and his new government in a quiet place while Chirac is finishing the job!

    Anonymous. LOL. See my previous answer to Johnny.

    KPgallant. Yes, I agree with you ;) (first part). Yes, NS said that he will appoint only 15 ministers (against 31 at the moment) and that half of them would be women (well, actually one has to be a hermaphrodite if he want s to stick to this rule LOL). That will be interesting. And yes, I agree too on your third part, France has to cement its place in the Global Economy of the 21st century... We already lost one rank to the UK…

    Pont Girl. Well, no, I think they put flowers regularly and special sprays on special occasions. To be honest this photo was taken together with the other Arch of Triumph photos and that was the first time I saw this Tomb…

    Anonymous. Is it so really? So why do we talk about an armistice all the time? Interesting anyway, thank you for this info.

    Anonymous (2). May 8 is the day Germany surrendered to the allies, you’re right. I should have been more specific as I surely did not intend to forget the admirable role that the Allies (Americans, of course, but also Canadians, Australians, English…) who died fro our freedom. I just meant that on that particular day, the war on the European soil stopped.

    Poilu. Are you a real one?! Cause you must be very very very old LOL.

    Tenin. At first I thought someone had stolen my identity and… no. People, this Tenin is… my father! And as you see, he is old enough (not that old!!) to remember the young people who died for us. Thanks for this comment dad!

    Kate. Everything is said in your comment. As someone who was born after WWII it’s difficult to realize how much some people have suffered so that I can enjoy a peaceful afternoon at home right after returning from vacation…

    Lv2scpbk. Thank you ;)

    Nathalie. Hey, how r u? Actually I was in Turkey, so the time difference is… one hour. Besides, all I did there was… NOTHING, so it’s not that hard to recover! Talking about WWII, do older people in Australia talk a lot about it with you?

    Monica. Yes, you’re right, these people do not accept democracy, it’s as simple as that. Whether you like the outcome of the vote or not it’s the people’s choice and you must accept it. But, like I said above, I don’t think these riots will last.

    Jeff. Funny as in “odd”, right?! Rioting is surely not the best answer. The leader of the socialist party (who also happens to be Ségolène Royal’s life companion;)) said today “don’t riot, vote!”. I am glad he said that.
    As for Tocqueville, well, he is one who helped our young democracy to bloom so what better author to quote on this post? Thank you, you’re always “à propos”

  22. Great shot! It’s important to remember the people who gave up everything so we can live this life. Although, it’s also important to remember that there is more to be done…
    jeff, will of the majority does NOT equal freedom. When the Palestinian people chose Hamas as their government the rest of the world rejected their decision... Why can people reject the will of the majority when it best suits them, but support it at times like this?
    I would not want to be an immigrant in France after May 16th...
    Remember, the majority supported slavery in the US. It never made it right though.
    not everyone can vote

  23. Eric's dad, welcome! I know that one of the best feelings in the world is for someone to tell you how wonderful your child is (I get it all the time and it always feels great!), so I have a little gift for you: You obviously did a wonderful job raising Eric and he seems to have great affection for you! From what we can tell you're a great father, and the world could do with a few more great fathers! Sorry I'm not more eloquent.

  24. Interesting debate Olive, because if you look at history several dictators (including Hitler) came to power after an election - or after a popular revolution (like in Cuba in 1959).

    So you're right the majority is not always right. But what is the solution ? Monarchy?

  25. No, but I think the winner of a majority must be held accountable for any actions against the minority.
    For example the second place candidate should have a say as well in the politics of a country. Or make a joint government (Northern Ireland is doing it now...). Obviously the winner would have more power, but when someone wins by a small margin (like Mexico - 1%) then it should be more or less equal.
    I think politicians need to learn how to compromise!
    Most of all I think it's wrong that 10% of the French population was not allowed to vote.
    After all, the reason for the high number of North African immigrants in France is that the French colonized them. It's now time to take responsibility, not time to throw them out and ignore history.

  26. Olive you offer interesting insight and options as to how election results are to be implemented. The Sarkozy win, comes as a reaction to some socio-economic. The Independent has a n interesting breakdown of the elections results, and in my opinion explains better what happened, when compared to The Guardian’s claim of a mandate to Sarkozy.


    I believe that Royal will have a say in the politics of the country, and believe should be doing it from the stance of the opposition rather than be involved in his cabinet. This is not the end for Royal.

    I have to say that she would have been even stronger, had she been able to answer some of his questions regarding some of her programs with specific examples of implementation, and not simply state that she is gving him the ideas and that implementation comes after discussion with her partners. I think these cost her in the elections. I also think that gender had a lot to do with her loosing as well, and this is the most UNFORTUNATE part of it all.

  27. Just wanted to say...J'adore ce blog!! Have been dealing with a lot of French-folks at work and they all seem to think the election results were the best thing for France...PDP is a part of my connection!

    Thanks for taking time to personally respond to all the comments Eric!! See you next month in SF???? Glad you're back!!

  28. I was at this ceremony 2 years ago! It was wonderful to witness.

  29. OOoh is that Eric's Dad? How do you know Soosha?

    Hello Eric's Dad - lovely to see you here. Bonjour Papa!

    Eric - what's a 'bought' ??

  30. On this side of the Atlantic, the perception of Sarkozy is positive for most. The SF Chronicle ran an informal poll yesterday on its website and it found that approx. 60% of those who responded were in favor of Sarkozy.

    By the way, Arnaud, has written a interesting article (in French) on his blog about the US press coverage of the French elections:


    (see the post dated 5 May 07)

  31. Lynn what Eric meant to say when he said bought = boat.

  32. Thanks for that Clo. I'm not really sure how the government is in France... But I know that a majority government in Canada can do whatever it wants. The opposition is there, but they don't actually do anything.
    I obviously believe that Royal could have done better in selling her side... BUT, in the end I think she would have been the better choice for the world at large. But perhaps if I had to live in France I would not have wanted her to win...
    I am an avid reader of the Guardian, so that may explain my views :)

    Tomate, the reason the US is in favour of "Sarko" is that America is afraid of Socialism (not all the people though). The entire country was founded on the principle of less taxes and less social welfare - the idea of "freedom". Remember the red scare?

  33. Oooops Lynn I should definitely proof read myself. Actually the left party accused him of retiring on a yacht and since I wanted to remain neutral in the report I decided to use boat - but having the word yacht in the back of my mind, it became... bought LOL. Thanks, Clo, for "translating"!

    BTW, if you're interested, here is the results country by country of who the French expats voted for. It's a PDF file and the names of the countries are in French, but it's interesting.

  34. Eric, I'm glad you mentioned that (US) Americans were not the only fellows on the beaches of Normandy. We get very annoyed by that.

    But I do think most French people are very appreciative of the sacrifice of troops from overseas.

    I don't like Sarkozy because he strikes me as a very brutal man. And not only those on the left feel that way - many politicians on the right hate him. In English one would call him a "loose cannon".

    I know the vote in the first round among the many French expats in Québec put Ségo ahead of Sarko, but haven't looked up the figures for the second round.

  35. Lynn, Eric mentioned in his reply to the comments that it was his papa. (see Eric's comment above). Papa Tenin!
    Sweet isn't it!

  36. Oui, c'est vraiment chouette! Bonjour à Monsieur Tenin père!

  37. Here Lynn, so you don't have to search: Eric said:

    Tenin. At first I thought someone had stolen my identity and… no. People, this Tenin is… my father! And as you see, he is old enough (not that old!!) to remember the young people who died for us. Thanks for this comment dad!

  38. "I don't like Sarkozy because he strikes me as a very brutal man. And not only those on the left feel that way - many politicians on the right hate him. In English one would call him a "loose cannon". "

    Bien parlé, Lagatta ! Tout à fait d'accord!

  39. Tres interessant, the PDF, Eric, merci, et bonjour à Monsieur Tenin père! :)

  40. Thanks for the clearing up! Eric i make errors too, i just didn't work this one out. Should have done really.

    It's great that Papa Tenin reads the blog. I've told my own parents about mine several times and once or twice they have looked in, forgot to read the comments and that's it. I don't tell them anymore! Papa Tenin; you're very welcome in Cheltenham too you know! Then again, i bet everyone wants you; just like our faces light up with smiles when we see Eric has visited us. lol. Your son is in demand! A toute a l'heure, Papa ! x