Yesterday I woke up to the French National hymn being played outside my window. Let me explain, we live about 200 meters away fom the Place de l'Etoile and yesterday was Armitice Day. Armistice Day in France remembers those who died or were injured in World War I and other wars. The body of an unidentified solider from the citadel of Verdun was buried in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier under the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on November 11, 1920. This soldier serves as a symbol of all those who died in World War I. An eternal flame was lit on this tomb three years later and still burns today and therefore a ceremony is held around the Place de l'Etoile in remembrance of the fallen troups.
A short background:
Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated by a Bosnian-Serb nationalist on June 28, 1914. This sparked the activation of a series of alliances. Major European powers were at war within weeks. Many European countries had global empires so the hostilities spread throughout the world and became known as World War I. More than 15 million people died as a result of the World War I hostilities.
Marshal Ferdinand Foch (Allies) and Matthias Erzberger (Germany) met in a railway carriage in Compiègne Forest, near the town of Compiègne in the Picardy region of France, in November 1918. The representatives signed an armistice treaty in the early hours of November 11, 1918, to end the World War I hostilities on the Western Front. World War I officially ended at 11 minutes past the 11th hour on November 11, 1918, because of the treaty. A law was approved on October 24, 1922, to make November 11 a public holiday in France.
I am not a Frenchie but hearing "La Marsaillaise" being played by the military band sent shivers down my spine. I love celebrations especially ones that are in remembrance of people that have served for their country. This is probably due to an entire childhood watching my very open-minded but thoroughly American Navy father celebrating every possible American holiday eventhough he spent most of his life in Switzerland.
Our avenue had been closed off to traffic and the kids were out on the street in no time with their "trotinette". The weather was a hazy, the Tour Eiffel was envelopped in a thick cloud but we had the most wonderful bike ride through the city of lights.
Everywhere I looked the "Tricolor" flag was hanging reminding the people of Armistice Day. This is a National holiday in France and it did feel like a very special day. It felt a bit like the day of La Hispanidad in Spain or the 150 anniversary of Italy celebrated earlier this year. In any case it was lovely to see all the French flags out on governmental buildings, buses, monuments, parks and to breath the crisp air riding our bikes through the alleys of le vieux Paris.