The Flag, The Marseillaise, The Celebration – So We Won’t Forget!


The French Flag

The flag is an emblem representing a person, a regiment, a monarch or a State. The flag can be seen on public buildings, in towns, cities, etc. It is, of course, present in military compounds. In official events, it represents the symbol of the State and of the Nation. It is one of the Republic’s distinguishing signs.

The Kings of France carried the flag’s three colors differently. The blue banner floating in the wind at the coronation of Charlemagne (800), from Clovis to Charles X, whose royal cloak was azure blue, adorned with golden heraldic lilies, symbols of loyalty and fidelity. Under the reign of Hugues Capet and during subsequent rules, it was the red oriflamme of Saint-Denis, protector of the kingdom, which served as the King’s standard. From 1638 to 1790, white was the color of the royal flag and of the Navy’s ensign. And from 1814 to 1830, white represented the Royal Army.

The French Revolution instituted the tricolor flag. A decree on Pluviôse 27, Year II (February 15, 1794) indicated that «the jack and the national flag shall be comprised of the three national colors arranged in three equal stripes so that the blue stripe is attached to the jack’s hoist, the white stripe is in the middle, and the red stripe is floating». A consensus on the three colors was gradually reached under the Third Republic. Presentation of flags to the armed forces on the occasion of the inaugural National Holiday, July 14, 1880, ushered in the tradition of flying the flag during the Republic’s national holidays. Little by little, this gained unanimous support in the official representation of France, and the royalists accepted this emblem during WWI. The constitution of 1946 and 1958, in its Article 2, stipulates that the national emblem is the tricolor flag, blue, white and red.

The Marseillaise

The Marseillaise, France’s national anthem, was composed in the fervor of national and popular revolution. Its creator, Claude-Joseph Rouget de l’Isle, was born in 1760 in Lons-le-Saunier. He became a naval engineering captain and a composer of music. Rouget de l’Isle was garrisoned in Strasbourg when the King of Austria’s declaration of war had been official for several days. On April 25, 1792, Rouget de l’Isle sang this composition – which he named «War Song of the Rhine Army»-for the first time. The sheet music and lyrics were printed and the song spread very rapidly across France. On July 30, 1792, the inhabitants of Marseille entered Paris singing the anthem. Of course, this inspired Parisians to christen the song «the Marseillaise».

The Marseillaise became a hit. It was declared the "National Song" by the Convention of July 14, 1795. Banned by Napoleon during the Empire and by Louis XVIII during the Second Restoration, it was honored after the Revolution of 1830. The Marseillaise was prohibited again by Napoleon III..

In 1879, under the Third Republic, The Marseillaise was declared the official anthem. Today, only the 1st, 6th and 7th verses and the refrain are sung, while the other verses are traditionally left out.

On July 14, 1915, the ashes of Rouget de l’Isle were transferred to Les Invalides.

PDF with the words to The Marseillaise

November 11: A Time of Hope

In the autumn of 1918, while the allied general offensive was developing, Paris understood that "The Day of Glory"", so cherished in The Marseillaise, was finally near ....

On October 18, in Place de la Concorde, an immense crowd celebrated the liberation of Lille and, two days later, the capital city really allowed its enthusiasm to overflow. On November 7, a few German emissaries showed up on the lines of the 1st Army, and a temporary local cease-fire was obtained. Army General Foch, accompanied by General Weygand and the British Navy delegation, presided over by Admiral Wemyss, traveled by special train to the forest of Compiègne. It was then in Rethondes that the Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Armed Forces, while stationed on a railroad artillery spur, communicated the text of The Armistice, which had been in development since November 4 by the allied governments.

On November 11, The Armistice was signed, thus putting an end to one of the largest massacres the world has ever known.

Scroll of an armistice

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