“humble before their sacrifice”

Here in France, it’s hard to miss the commencement of the 70th-anniversary commemoration of the D-Day landings, from traffic problems all over Paris to a friend’s mobile uploads of Her Majesty’s arrival at Gare du Nord this afternoon. In the midst of all that, I want to take a quiet, solemn moment to remember the sacrifice made by so many on that day and in the weeks and months that followed to liberate France from Nazi occupation. Much has been written — and much is surely being written even as I type away here — on the significance of the day. Instead of adding to that (or possibly detracting from it), I’ll just share the words and images from my last two efforts to express the complex mix of emotions the day evokes for me. (Click the title links or the photos to access the two articles.) Continue reading “humble before their sacrifice”

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Remem-ber, Remem-ber the 8th of May

Today is one of four French national holidays during the month of May, including May Day (May 1), Ascension (May 9 this year), and Pentecost Monday (May 20 this year). May is, it seems, the most “holidayed” month of the year for the French. Given that it’s usually the most beautiful month of the year in Paris, that’s just fine with me!

If you’ve ever wondered why May 8 is a holiday here, read on

(Originally published May 8, 2012)

je parle américain

May is a month chock full of holidays here in France. Just last week, we celebrated May Day. Since it fell on a Tuesday, lots of French took Monday off as well so they could have a four-day weekend — that’s what the French call faire le pont (“to make the bridge”). This year, May is also the month that brings us such Christian holidays as Ascension on May 17 and Pentecost on May 27. While the latter is no longer a public holiday in France, the former is … but let’s not get into a discussion about laïcité, okay? Instead, I’m writing about today’s holiday:

le 8 mai

A blogger friend of mine noted in a post today that it was “Victory Day” … but no one could tell her exactly which victory it commemorated. Being the history nerd that I am, I passed along the needed…

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Remember, Remember the 8th of May

May is a month chock full of holidays here in France. Just last week, we celebrated May Day. Since it fell on a Tuesday, lots of French took Monday off as well so they could have a four-day weekend — that’s what the French call faire le pont (“to make the bridge”). This year, May is also the month that brings us such Christian holidays as Ascension on May 17 and Pentecost on May 27. While the latter is no longer a public holiday in France, the former is … but let’s not get into a discussion about laïcité, okay? Instead, I’m writing about today’s holiday:

le 8 mai

A blogger friend of mine noted in a post today that it was “Victory Day” … but no one could tell her exactly which victory it commemorated. Being the history nerd that I am, I passed along the needed information. (It also helped that my local Métro station is named for the holiday!) Given that, I figured I might as well write my own little blogpost on the holiday that I just celebrated by doing absolutely nothing special …

Victory in Europe Day” or “V-E Day” is the day that marks the end of World War II in Europe, when the Allies formally accepted Nazi Germany’s act of military surrender. Following the fall of Berlin and Hitler’s suicide on April 30, 1945, control of Germany passed into the hands of Admiral Karl Dönitz, who established a short-lived new German government named after Flensburg, the town on the Danish border where he was holed up at Germany’s naval academy. Allied forces were advancing rapidly on what remained of the German army in northwestern Germany and, on May 4, Dönitz surrendered to British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery near Hamburg.

Continue reading Remember, Remember the 8th of May