Sunday, May 8, 2016

8th May, Victory in Europe Day

French Village Diaries Victory in Europe
Victory in Europe ceremony

The 8th May is a public holiday in France to commemorate the anniversary of Victory in Europe Day. Every year our village, along with other communes, large and small, holds a small ceremony of remembrance; the Maire wears his sash, the village flag is unfurled and a small group of villagers gather together.

Until today, the flag has always been held with pride by one of the old soldiers, but sadly we lost our last one earlier this year (see here). Our Maire has decided that now is the time to pass this honour to the younger generation and today he asked Ed if he would hold it, and as you can see from the photo above, he did it with style.

It was a proud moment for me, but tinged with sadness as I stood next to the widow of our last village soldier, whose absence today was felt by all of us there. This week, our family have also lost our own old soldier. My Dad’s cousin, Cyril, who was only 19 years old when he was one of the first to land on Gold Beach on D-Day. I wrote about Cyril here and when we visited Normandy in 2014 we saw a bulldozer just like the ones that he drove in June 1944 to clear the beach of mines. Without Cyril and the thousands like him, there would be no Victory in Europe Day to remember today and I think it is important for the younger generation to understand this. As Ed stood tall with the village flag, I took a moment to remember Cyril, my Grandad Albert and Jacky who always held the flag with pride.

French Village Diaries Victory in Europe D-Day Normandy beaches
Norrmandy Beaches D-Day


After the ceremony we gathered in the Salle des Fêtes for a vin d’honneur (wine of honour) and aperitifs, and the tables had been decorated with lilac flowers that looked stunning.

French Village Diaries Victory in Europe
Lilacs decorating the vin d'honneur table

Food and flowers have been a bit of a theme for today as before the ceremony we held our annual plant swap. An informal gathering where seedlings, cuttings and anything plant related is brought along and shared with coffee, cakes and friendly chatter. Village life at its best.

French Village Diaries plant swap
French Village Plant Swap

This post has been linked to Paulita's Ponderings Dreaming of France blog link-up.