The sound of a marching band and activity in the square outside my house raised me from my slothful reading in bed on Monday morning. I was enjoying the public holiday and not having to get the kids off to school, but had done nothing more than briefly wonder why it was a day off. A little research was in order. Although much of France was celebrating the defeat of the fascists in the presidential election the day before, the 8th of May marks the end of the Second World War in Europe. (The war didn’t finish in the Asia-Pacific region until the 2nd September 1945). At 10am the local marching band assembled – complete with large, white, marching tuba – and paraded up to the memorial outside the post office. They began the ceremony with an enthusiastic version of La Marseillaise, followed by a few speeches, a bit of flag raising and lowering, and a few tunes.
Despite the French architecture and tricolor flag, I was struck by just how similar it all was to war memorial services in little Australian towns, and probably towns all over thewestern world – the community band, an audience of mostly over 70s, a few younger re-enacters and a couple of random onlookers.
Had I not been in my pyjamas I might have gone outside to observe a little closer, but as it was, the view from the bathroom window on the first floor was quite good.
We’re nowhere near Flanders, but the poppies are out in between the vines. As Lucie remarked, the purple and blue flowers enhance the vibrant red of the poppies.