Monday, July 21, 2014

A historical parade in Paris in July 2014

 In this post I had intended to explain where I had seen the French flag shown in my last post.  However, on July 14th I was able to watch the parade down the Champs-Elysees in Paris, live, from my computer.  This was a historical parade and I took many pictures.  I will show these on this post.  Every year the parade has a different theme.  This year it was to commemorate and remember the soldiers and workers from all lands, who took part in the First World War, which started a hundred years ago this month.  I watched this program on the large screen of my desktop computer.

 For the first time there were many foreign soldiers holding their country's flag and taking part in the French national holiday.  About all the countries, 80 of them, which took part in WW1 were invited by France, and I believe 79 came (China sent their regrets.)

To refresh memories - on June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand (1863-1914,) heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne and his wife, Duchess of Hohenberg, were shot dead while riding in a motorcade in Sarajevo.  This assassination led Europe then the world to the First World War.  Below are newspaper articles and postcards on this terrible event.  (Click on collage twice to enlarge.)

Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia on 28 July 1914.  Germany declared war on Russia on August 1, invaded Luxembourg on August 2 and declared war on France on August 3, 1914.  On August 4, 1914 the United Kingdom declared war on Germany and so on.  The war ended on November 11, 1918 at 11:00 am.  The total number of casualties is still being debated; so far it comes to 37,466,904 - which include killed, wounded, prisoners and missing.  The USA suffered 116,516 killed (323,018 casualties.)  France suffered almost 1,400,000 killed (total casualties 6,180,800) and some are still found nowadays.  I read in a French newspaper that on June 1, 2014, two young men found the remains of five WW1 French soldiers in a forest near Luneville, Lorraine, France.  There were still pieces of their military uniforms, a watch, and two wallets at the scene.  Below are vintage postcards of World War 1 (WW1) - in France they call it the 14-18 war (la guerre 14-18.)

This 14 July 2014 parade started at 9:00 am from the Arc de Triomphe in Paris with the president of France driving down the boulevard des Champs-Elysees to the Place de la Concorde while all the participating regiments were standing in attention.  (My photos are blurry because it is difficult to take pictures from a moving video.)  You can see some of the foreign troops in the collage below.

Once the French President reached the podium near the Place de la Concorde, greeted his guests and sad down that was the sign for the program to start.  A movie of vintage World War 1 pictures appeared then on large screens.

The parade started with a platoon of French soldiers dressed in the uniforms of the "poilus," the WW1 soldiers.  The word poilu means hairy but it was used, even before WW1, as in the meaning for "macho" for super masculine men and soldiers.  Below are old postcards and photographs of "Poilus" from WW1.

These two rows of Poilus, below, from the Great War were wearing period uniforms.  These uniforms were kept in a military museum and worn exceptionally for this parade.  They are wearing the original 1916 uniforms with blue trousers because, in 1914, the trousers were red and easily seen by the enemy so they were changed to the color blue.  These soldiers did not carry the standard equipment the Poilus had in 1914, which weighed up to 35 kilos (70 pounds.)

The group of Poilus was followed by the parade of nations who were invited to recall the sacrifice of soldiers from their countries.  Each group from these 79 countries consisted of three troops with one carrying their country's emblem or flag.  They came down in alphabetical order (French spelling, so the USA "Etats-Unis" came after Estonia) to avoid protocol difficulties.  It was not easy for me to remember the flag of each country apart from those well known.  Here is the list of the 80 countries who took part in World War 1, on either side and were invited:  South Africa Albania Algeria Armenia Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bangladesh Belarus Belgium Benin Bosnia and Herzegovina Bulgaria Burkina Faso Cambodia Canada China Cyprus Comoros Cote d'Ivoire Croatia Congo Denmark Djibouti Estonia USA Finland Gabon Georgia Germany Greece Guinea Hungary India Ireland Italy Japan Kazakhstan Kyrgyzstan Kosovo Laos Latvia Lithuania Luxembourg Madagascar Mali Malta Mauritania Morocco Moldova Monaco Montenegro New Zealand Niger Norway Pakistan Uzbekistan Netherlands Poland Portugal Czech Republic Romania United Kingdom Russia Senegal Serbia Slovakia Slovenia Spain Sweden Tajikistan Chad Thailand Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Ukraine Vanuatu Vietnam.

Each group from the invited countries stood on the Place de la Concorde while a French Army choir sang two WW1 popular songs, La Madelon and Le Chant du Depart (Song of Departure) then the national anthem, La Marseillaise.

The 14 July parade in Paris is usually the formal review of the military forces by the French President.  This year the parade included 3,700 men and women walking, 241 horses, 285 vehicles, 53 aircraft, 36 helicopters and 76 detection dogs.

There were so many regiments, military schools, squadrons, military fire brigades, guards on horses - it was difficult to figure out which ones they were as I was not watching a commercial video but a French government video without comments.  But this way, it felt like I was there rather than watching it from afar.

Some of the regiments wore uniforms that were created centuries ago.  For example the 3rd Infantry regiment's uniform was created in 1803.  The military fire brigade of Paris was created in 1811 by Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte after the Austrian Embassy, his father-in-law's country, burned down in Paris because the regular firemen could not cope.  It is now the largest military fire brigade in Europe with 1800 firemen and women.  My favorite regiment is the Foreign Legion (Legion Etrangere) created in 1831 and including at least 12 regiments.  They lost 6,000 men during WW1.  They are the last ones to come down the parade because they march at a very slow pace to the rhythm of their official march "Le Boudin" which I know well.

My grandfather had taken part in the war effort and knew all the military marches and their lyrics.  When I was a wee child and living with my grandparents in Provence my grand-dad would often sing those marches - sometimes to get me to sleep, so I remember them.  The march he liked the most was The Regiment of Sambre and Meuse (I mentioned it already in my post of July 13, 2010 - click here.) It is the march that Ohio State University adopted for their football team "Ohio Script."  I found a video of an old recording of this march with vintage postcards of the war of 14-18.




This 14th of July was also the 50th anniversary of the independence of 13 African francophone countries.  During the wars of 1914-18 and 1939-45 they were French colonies.  No heads of states of the 80 countries were invited as this was a "soldiers" commemoration.  The parade included a 1917 American ambulance and taxis from the Marne, which were requisitioned in September 1914 by General Gallieni to bring rapid reinforcements to the Marne battle theater.  Finally an artillery troop wearing original 1916 uniforms came in a cart pulling a famous 75 mm field gun, 1897 model.  This field gun was extremely accurate, quick firing and for its time was a technological success. It was used for 50 years between 1897 and 1945 and is regarded as the first modern artillery piece.

The program ended with 250 young people, 18 to 25 years old, from the 80 countries invited.  They danced with a dove in their hands to represent peace.  At the end of the dance they let the birds go as a symbol of peace.

Later on I watched, live, the  fireworks from the Eiffel Tower, but this will be in my next post.  More to come ...

Monday, July 14, 2014

La Marseillaise .. and more

Yesterday I was in an American city where the French flag was standing on a pole in the center of the town square.  Can you guess in which town this could have possibly be?  I also heard the Marseillaise, the French national anthem, being played - and this was not yet for the French National holiday, le 14 Juillet (here called Bastille's Day.)  I have written about le 14 Juillet in several earlier posts such as in my post of July 13, 2009, where I give the history of the holiday - click here to read it. I'll explain in upcoming posts about the French flag I saw yesterday.  Below is the band that  entertained us.

The military band, The Eighth Regiment Band, played several other marches.  They perform on period instruments dating to the 1800s.  The band leader gave interesting background information on the tunes being played.  The origins of some of these pieces were not what people usually believe - patriotic US music coming from other lands and so on.  They played the Battle Hymn of the Republic.  During the American Civil War, its first lyrics were used in a Union Army marching song supposed to have been written in 1855 by William Steffe (1830-1890.)  It became a popular American abolitionist song.

However the original music of the Battle Hymn of the Republic is much older.  It comes from the Southern USA.  Music researchers found out that its roots go back to an early 1800s or even late 1700s Georgia African-American wedding song or "Negro folk song."  In 1807 a hymnal included the song which was titled then "Grace, Reviving the Soul."  Later, in the 1820s it became popular as a Methodist Camp Meeting song around Charleston, South Carolina, where it was sung in free Black churches.  It became known as "Say, brothers, will you meet us on Canaan's happy shore."  Below is the sheet music from an early hymn book of the Methodist Church in Nashville, Tennesse, where you can read the chorus "Glory, glory hallelujah."  (Click on pictures to enlarge.)







The band played for an hour or more.  I did not know all the tunes but when they played the Star-Spangled Banner, the American national anthem, every one stood up, including me (since I am a naturalized American citizen.)  The lyrics came from a poem by Francis Scott Key, but the music was originally a popular drinking song in England.  The music is attributed to English composer John Stafford Smith (1750-1830.)  It was the drinking song of the Anacreontic Society - a London gentlemen club founded in the mid 18th century.  I find it strange in a way that the American national anthem comes from an old British drinking song but it is a beautiful and stirring melody.

Before playing "Dixie" the band leader told the audience that both Northerners and Southerners could sing it as it had been written by Dan Emmett, a white native of Mount Vernon, Ohio, and performed in New York City in the Bryant's Minstrel troupe, where it became very famous - and was not even known in the South at the time.  It was very popular in the North and was used as a Republican Convention theme song in the 1850s.  It was one of President Lincoln's favorite songs.  I found a reference to the song in an old French book, written by the Marquis de Chambrun (French, 1831-1891.)  The book is called "A Frenchman at the Lincoln's" letters addressed during the Civil War (the Secession War) to his spouse who had stayed behind in France.

Here is the translation of his letter of April 9, 1865: "We were to leave City Point on Saturday, April 8th, 1865.  A few hours prior to our leaving, a military band from Headquarters came on board the River Queen.  We assembled to hear it.  After the performance of several pieces, Mr. Lincoln thought of the "Marseillaise," for which he professed great liking.  He ordered it to be played.  Delighted with it, he had it played a second time.  He then asked me if I had ever  heard "Dixie," the rebel patriotic song, to the sound of which all their attacks had been conducted.  As I answered in the negative, he added:  "That tune is now Federal property; it belongs to us, and, at any rate, it is good to show the rebels that with us in power they will be free to hear it again."  He then ordered the somewhat surprised musicians to play it for us.  Thus ended our last evening."

In another book I read that President Lincoln, after attending a minstrel show in Chicago, Illinois, where "Dixie" was played, called and shouted: "Let's have it again! Let's have it again!"  and then said "I have always thought 'Dixie' one of the best tunes I have ever heard.  Our adversaries over the way attempted to appreciate it, but I insisted yesterday that we fairly captured it. [Applause.]   He had it also played for his inauguration.  Even after the Civil War the song Dixie was very popular in the North for many years.  Now it is not a "politically correct" song and considered controversial.  It is too bad because it is a lively tune and really just a song.

After playing Dixie the band played La Marseillaise.  The band leader did say that it was the French national anthem but also been considered a revolutionary song by many others.  I was the only one in the audience to stand up and sing - since I am still a French citizen.

The Marseillaise is the patriotic hymn of the French Revolution, officially adopted by France as its national anthem in 1879.  In late April 1792, baron de Dietrich, the mayor of Strasbourg, mentioned during a party that he was sorry that Revolutionary France did not posses a national hymn able to galvanize soldiers and volunteers to fight for the "homeland in danger."  Touched by this remark, a young officer, Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle, composed a war song during the night of 25-26 April 1792 to instill bravery and courage in the hearts of French troops as they fought war with Austria.  It was originally called "War Song for the Army of the Rhine."  Rouget de Lisle was stationed in Strasbourg in a battalion named "Les enfants de la patrie" (Children of the Nation.)  Strasbourg was attacked several days later by the armies from Prussia and Austria but they were repulsed.

 Rouget de Lisle composant La Marseillaise, Auguste de Pinelli, French 1823-1890

Soon this war song was adopted by a troop from Marseille who had volunteered to fight.  They made it a popular patriotic and revolutionary melody when they marched into Paris on 30 July 1792 singing it in the streets.  They gave it a new name "Hymne des Marseillais" and then "La Marseillaise."  It was adopted as the nation's anthem by decree on July 14, 1795 and played until 1804.

During the Empire and the Restoration periods of France, the Marseillaise was forbidden but it was restored during the Revolution of 1830.  At that time Hector Berlioz, the French romantic composer (1803-1869) wrote a first orchestration that he dedicated to Rouget de Lisle.  In 1848 Berlioz wrote the final orchestration.  In early 1879 it became officially recognized as the national anthem of France and became one of the symbols of the French Republic.

Miss Darthy interpreting La Marseillaise by Gustave Brisgand, French 1867-1944

The Marseillaise became very popular and used by many composers as well as in movies.  In Russia it was used as a republican revolutionary anthem starting in the 18th century (almost as soon as it was written in France) and became the most popular song during the Revolution of 1905.  They called it "The Worker's Marseillaise" (In Russian: Рабочая Марсельеза, Rabochaya Marselyeza.)  In 1880 Russian composer Tchaikovski used the theme of La Marseillaise in his 1812 Ouverture.  I heard Tchaikovski's piece played during the 4th July fireworks celebration here and found it a bit bizarre that this Russian theme would be played here during an American patriotic time, but it is a rousing piece of music indeed.  Below is the French anthem played by the Millar Brass Ensemble.


" Allons enfants de la patrie, le jour de gloire est arrivé ..."   Vive le 14 Juillet !


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

150th Anniversary of a Civil War battle, the Tour de France ... and more

This is an unusual combination - a Civil War battle and the Tour de France ... but blogs reflect our lives and these last few days I have been watching the Tour de France live on television every morning.  In the afternoons I have been writing a little bit on this post about the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain that was commemorated at the end of June, just a couple of miles down our road.

 Other events happened during the first week of July - the 50th year anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the celebration of the 4th of July and the FIFA World Cup of football in Brazil.  This is the most watched sport event in the world with an estimated 715.1 million people watching the final match, or 1/9th of the entire population of the world (so says Wikipedia.)  FIFA is the abbreviation for Fédération Internationale de Football Association.  I found, on French Wikipedia now, that Jules Rimet (French, 1873-1956) was the initiator of the World Cup.  On the UK Wikipedia I found out that the word "soccer" used in the US for international football originated in England, as an Oxford "er" slang abbreviation for "association."  The late 19th century English footballer, Charles Wreford-Brown (1866-1951) is credited with inventing the term soccer.

 On a domestic note - this past week I also made strawberry jam.

I also read that Gertrude Weaver celebrated her 116th birthday on July 4th.  She lives near Little Rock, Arkansas, is a "supercentenarian" the oldest person in the US and the verified second oldest in the world.  She was born in 1898 - she was already 20 years old at the end of World War 1.  Who knows, she may even remember hearing about the first Tour de France in 1903 when she was 5 years old.  This year the Tour de France started in England.

On Sunday July 6th, 2014, the stage ending in Sheffield, England was won by an Italian, Vincenzo Nibali.  The Tour is quite international - the yellow jersey was won by an Italian member of the team from Kazakhstan, with the Tour de France in England.  Peter Sagan of Slovakia won the green jersey and Romain Bardet of France won the white jersey!  (See more explanations on the Tour by clicking on Tour de France on the right side margin of my blog.  I explained the color of the jerseys in my post of July 20, 2011 - click here to read it.)

During the three days that the Tour de France was in England, it is said that up to 5 million people came along the route to watch the bike racers.  I took pictures from our two television sets, some came out OK and the others are pretty fuzzy.

On Sunday 29 June, 2014, we went to Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park to assist at the commemoration of the 150th or sesquicentennial anniversary of the battle that took place there in 1864.

Kennesaw Mountain is just a couple of miles down our road and has been mentioned several times on this blog.  In October 2009 in the post "My Road in Cobb County" part 1 - click here - I gave a brief description of the battle.  In my August 17, 2013 post "Time goes by in a park and in restaurants" - click here - I explained that since I was a wee child I have been living on or near a hill and enjoyed mountains and hills and showed more pictures.  In my March 16, 2012 post "A Stroll on the Mountain" - click here - I showed pictures of the mountain and of the cannons that are still there.  In my post of November 8, 2012 "Fall Foliage" - click here - I showed how beautiful the mountain is under the golden colors of autumn.  Since 1976 I have been driving by Kennesaw Mountain once or twice a day and I have seen it in all seasons and under all skies.  (Click on collages twice to see better.)

Below is a postcard showing the top of the mountain panorama in the fall looking toward Atlanta.

More than 100,000 visitors from across the country came to the National Battlefield Park from Thursday afternoon June 26 through Sunday afternoon, June 29th, 2014, to attend the ceremonies and take part in the events commemorating the fierce battle that took place here on June 27, 1864.  Buses carried the visitors from adjacent parking lots and to the top of the mountain (1,808 feet above sea level.)

There were opening and closing ceremonies, lectures, Union and Confederate infantry demonstration, ranger programs, 

re-enactment activities,

guided hikes at Burnt Hickory and Kennesaw Mountain, more guided hikes along the park's 18 miles of trails, concerts by the 97th Regimental String Band and other musical ensembles, gospel choirs, children's activities, storytelling and book signings (I purchased two books - the diary of a Union soldier, and the diary of a Confederate soldier.)

The visitor center offered a selection of 150th year Civil War anniversary souvenirs and books.  It also has a mini-museum, a photo gallery and artillery.  A new 35-minute film explains, very realistically, the battle of Kennesaw Mountain.

A Civil War Medicine Program and a Civil War Fashion Show were also included in the events.

Almost every hour musket firing demonstrations and cannon demonstrations were heard around the mountain.

 There were "real time" hikes at Dead Angle Assault at Cheatham Hill (below the mountain.)  On August 5, 2009, I wrote a post "Cheatham Hill Walk" where I explained the battle fought there, click here to read it.  This was the site of the fiercest battle where Sherman's forces sustained most of their 3,000 casualties.

On June 27th, 1864, the battle started at 8:00 am that morning and by noon the Union attack had failed.  Union Major General William T. Sherman's Army lost 3,000 men and the Confederates lost 1,000.  The brutal frontal assault at Kennesaw Mountain that the Union troops launched against the Confederate Army of Tennessee, led by General Joseph E. Johnston, was a major tactical defeat.  Below is a Kurtz and Allison Print - with misspellings.

 It was one of the bloodiest single days in the campaign for Atlanta.  Below is an engraving showing the battle, courtesy the Library of Congress.

Sherman did capture the city of Atlanta two months later, and destroyed it.  But at Kennesaw Mountain his forces had been repulsed.  Below are more engravings from the Library of Congress.

In the afternoon we walked toward the Battlefield Main Stage where, at 3:00 pm, there was a Reading of the Names of the Fallen.  A group of people were waiting in line with a sheet bearing the names they were going to call out.  We listened to several persons then walked away and came back later to hear the end of the reading of the names - it took 2 hours to call out the 4,000 names.  Someone would read names like " ... Joseph B. Campbell, Scott Elliott, Jacob Graves, Thomas Hamilton, Joseph Montgomery, Elijah Ford, John Page ..." then would finish by saying "... from the 34th Regiment of Illinois and was my great great grandfather" or " ...from the 29th Regiment of Tennessee and was my great great uncle" - it was very solemn and sad.

While the names were being read we could watch some pictures depicting the continuous activities rolling on a giant screen.  I took some photos from it, but they are not too clear.

The closing ceremonies were at 5:00 pm with distinguished speakers.  Then Dr. Oral Mosses and the Georgia Spiritual Ensemble sang a Negro Spiritual entitled "Oh, Mary, don't you weep, don't you mourn."  By the end of the song everyone was clapping in unison.
I did take a small video of the gospel singers, but I have tried to place it on this post and it keeps saying that there is "an upload error."  So I found a vintage clip on YouTube from the Georgia field hands."



 "Cheer up sisters and don't you cry.
There'll be good times bye and bye  ...
Oh, Mary, don't you weep, don't you mourn.
Oh, Mary, don't you weep, don't you mourn.
Didn't Pharaoh's army get drowned?
Oh, Mary, don't you weep."


 
As the ceremony was ending the Atlanta Pipe Band (a 40+ year old Atlanta Scottish bag piping ensemble) played their mournful funeral march (Amazing Grace) on top of the hill nearby.  Then, each musician turned and walked away until there were none and the music slowly faded in the distance - it was an emotional tribute.

The 150th anniversary of the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain had ended.  People walked toward the buses and the parking lots.  The cannons were silent and only the birds would be on the mountain now.  I passed a tree and almost did not see a large hawk looking at me.  He let me take many pictures of him.  Then as I walked away he flew toward the mountain.