Monday, December 5, 2011


This morning around 11 o'clock we heard drums. It was a beautiful, sunny, fresh morning so we had the terrace doors flung wide to bring it inside. We heard the drums and then the horns, followed closely by singing. Mom said, 'What in the world is that?, surprised by the sudden burst of music from our normally quiet residential street.
What it was was one of the beauties of France. There is a stone pillar in the center of the parking lot across the street. It is etched with just a few words, 'Place des Combattants en Afrique du Nord" and today a small group of well-dressed, patriotic French honored them by gathering to sing La Marseillaise and placing flowers in front of the pillar. If you know of any special meaning behind 5 December and the French in North Africa please let me know. I searched but found nothing specific to that day in history.
I do know that there are stone and marble memorials to fallen soldiers in parking lots just like the one near my house all over France. There is one next door to Les Canadiennes for those who fought and died in Vietnam. I also know that each monument has its day of tribute through song and flowers. It is this that makes them special although they sit,  year-round amid the coming and going of petanque players, market goers and dog walkers.

It is marvelous to sit in your living room on any given day and hear the French national anthem drifting through the windows, knowing they are honoring their fallen soldiers in that moment even if no one really notices besides the handful of scented, coiffed and scarved elderly men and women standing around singing for the dead.


  1. What a wonderful post! I did some research for you and found out that on December 5, 2002, French President Jacques Chirac inaugurated a war memorial at the new Musee Branly in Paris. The memorial (and since that day, December 5) honors over 22,000 French and Harkis soldiers who fought and died in the former French colonies in North Africa: Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco. I hope this helps. Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

  2. Veronique,
    Thank you so much. I looked but found nothing as detailed as that. I'm sure the same scene was played out all over the country in little parking lots today.

  3. Thanks for the post. Today on my way to work I drove by a memorial service in a town not far from my office. There were flags flying, people in uniforms and flowers everywhere. I had no idea what it was for, now I do!


It makes my day to read your comments. They're an answer to my floating words in blogland.