Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Time Of Triumph

Magnet # 390:  Arc De Triomphe, Paris


Material:  Resin


Purchased By:  Dad

Some big events will be going on worldwide tomorrow, November 11th.  As you may know, this was when World War I came to an end with the signing of the Armistice with Germany near Compiegne, France in 1918.  It was agreed upon at five in the morning, and came into effect at 11 AM in Paris, which has come to be known as "the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month."  With the horrors of war finally behind them, nations all over the globe broke out in festivities that many still commemorate.  In the United States, Veterans' Day has come to be held on this day.  It's a holiday when all military veterans are honored and came about in 1954, when Congress and President Dwight Eisenhower signed it into effect, changing Armistice Day into a celebration of veterans of every American war.  The campaign to make this inclusion of all soldiers was led by a Kansas shoe store owner.  Other nations, such as the United Kingdom, Bermuda, Canada, and Australia mark this occasion with an event known as Remembrance Day.  And although the United Kingdom observes two minutes of silence on November 11, its most important events are held on Remembrance Sunday, the second Sunday of the month.  Poland actually has its Independence day on the anniversary of the end of the war, as that nation was unified after centuries of separation thanks to the Allied victory.  And there are still some nations that hold Armistice Day on November 11, most notably Belgium and France.

While Paris' Arc de Triophe predates Armistice Day, it has become an important symbol of the celebrations.  It was commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1806 when he had just the Russians and Austrians at Austerlitz and was enjoying his greatest fortunes.  Still, the massive structure took a considerable amount of time to complete and two whole years just to lay down its foundation.  In 1810 when Napoleon brought his new bride Archduchess Marie-Louise of Austria back to Paris with him, they passed under a preliminary wooden version of the Arc.  But work on it eventually came to a halt after Napoleon's fall and it wasn't finished until 1836.  And in 1840, when the remains of the former Emperor were brought back from Saint Helena, they were taken through the Arc a final time.  And after World War I had come to an end, several noteworthy events took place at the Arc.  The French forces held a parade their to celebrate their victory.  In August of 1919, French aviator Charles Godefroy flew his plane through the structure, albeit without official permission.  But the stunt was photographed and filmed, and the whole world was made aware of it.  On a more somber note, as part of 1920's Armistice Day observances, the Tomb of the Unknown Solider from World War I was interred beneath the Arc.  Initially, it had been planned to place the body at the Pantheon, but an overwhelming amount of support for the Arc surfaced, and the change was made.  By the time the Nazis invaded in 1940, they were well aware of the significance of the monument and had photographs of their soldiers marching in a parade taken there.  And by that same token, when the Liberation of Paris was achieved in 1944, the Allies held a victory march there.  Nowadays, the Arc de Triomphe is the center of ceremonies in Paris on Armistice Day, with many officials visiting it and a small horseback parade venturing forth from it.  And it's supposed to be a pretty interesting site to visit during the rest of the year.  Visitors enter it through an underpass and can either take an elevator or a set of 284 steps to reach the attic of the Arc, which features information about it and a gift shop.  They can also make it to the very top for a panoramic view of the city.  It's amazing that so much can be held there - the Arc is certainly bigger than it might appear!

To all of you veterans here in the United States who are bring honored tomorrow, thanks for the hard work and sacrifice.  And keep in mind, there are some national restaurant chains offering free meals to you, like Applebee's, Chili's, Hooters, Golden Corral, and McCormick & Schmick's.  Most of them will have a limited menu to choose from, but hey, it's still free!  And that's not all of the perks that will be available to veterans - they can get a free doughnut from Krispy Kreme or a free six inch sub from Subway, but not all of those chains' locations are participating, so call first to verify.  Lowe's and the Home Depot are also offering ten percent discounts to military personnel and their families.  Plus, Colonial Williamsburg, Knott's Berry Farm, and over 100 National Park Service locations are waiving admission fees for military members.  It's nice to see so many generous merchants honoring those who have defended our country.  So if you qualify, head on out and take advantage of some of tomorrow's specials - considering what so many veterans have sacrificed for our country, you've earned it!

2 comments:

  1. Hope we get a chance to take advantage of the generous offers from the merchants. It is nice to see folks appreciating their military!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes, this is one group of people who are truly deserving of the appreciation they're given.

    ReplyDelete