Sunday, November 11, 2012

Remembrance Day in Cortambert

My recollection of many Remembrance Sundays is of cold bitterly winds and often driving rain. The worst of all was a parade in Jersey when I was about 12 and we stood in driving snow and got soaked to the skin.

The view from the Mairie overlooking the valley
Today was my first experience of Remembrance Day here in France. As I looked out of the window I was delighted to see that the weather was dry so I didn't need the new umbrella. It was also mild so I did not need my winter woollies either.
I drove up to Cortambert and noticed that already people were gathering on the gravel outside the Mairie.

The Cortambert Mairie
Meeting the local community is a joy - shaking hands with the ones I didn't know and exchanging bisous - kisses - with those I did. There were quite a few present - a lot more than when we attended the 8th May remembrance for the liberation of France from the Germans.

It took time to speak to everyone and I didn't get around to everyone, but spoke to one of our neighbours who I had seen jogging in the hamlet - I wished her "bon courage"  and passed on to others I had met at Vannerie (basket making) last Winter and at badminton. The faces were familiar but I am dreadful at names!

Pierre-Jean our Mayor called the voluntary firemen to order and the marched at the head of the crowd who followed them the short walk up to the memorial next to the church.

The pompiers voluntaires line up
When we got to the memorial we spread out along the opposite side of the road. Pierre-Jean first asked us to observe two minutes silence in memory of one of our young voluntary pompiers who had been tragically killed on Wednesday evening whilst riding his motorbike on the Cluny road. I was shocked - we had been driving back from Geneva airport on Wednesday evening and the ambulance and rescue services had passed us en route to the accident and we had had to divert to get home again. So it was was one of our community, young too. It brought home how fragile life can be.
After the first two minutes silence the address from the government was read by Pierre-Jean and then the two minutes silence followed.
18 peoples' names are the war memorial from the first world war and 4 from the second.  After the silence the bugle was blown.

Then we meandered back to the mairie for wine, pizzas, savoury gateau and brioche. Conversation flowed as people got the chance for a catch up!

As I walked back to my car I couldn't help but stop and look at the memorial and give thanks for being part of a community of such delightful people who I count it a privilege to live near.


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