This morning as I was leaving a café nearby the Champs-Élysées, I noticed that a giant French flag was being set up under the Arc de Triomphe. This was part of the preparations for the World War I Armistice Day commemorations in Paris.
Tomorrow, on the 11th November, the President of the French Republic and his government will attend a ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe, Paris. Under the arch François Hollande will follow the traditional laying of a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (Soldat Inconnu) at 11am which will be followed by the observance of two consecutive minutes of silence. The first minute is dedicated to the soldiers and civilians who died during the conflict and the second to these left behind: widows, orphans, wounded…
The eternal Flame of Remembrance placed on the grave echoes that of the Vestal Virgins in Rome which was extinguished in 394 by Barbarian raids. It remembers the soldiers killed in the war who were never identified. Since 1923, the flame has been rekindled every evening at 6.30pm by associations of war veterans.
On the grave is inscribed:
“ici repose un soldat français mort pour la patrie 1914–1918″
“Here lies a soldier who died for his country 1914-1918″