May 8th is Victory Day in France. A day tinged with sorrow, sadness and joy. Although solemn and respectful, there is a celebratory feel to the day, the day when France commemorates the end of WWII.
In 1946, French law stipulated Victory Day would be remembered on the second Sunday in May. War veterans continued to commemorate Victory Day on May 8, whatever day it fell on. In 1968, the government finally agreed that the day could be celebrated on 8th May. However, it was not until 1982 that Victory Day was declared an official national holiday.
In Amboise locals display the French national flag on their homes and the Tricolour is flown on all public buildings. The world famous flag is one-and-a-half times as wide as it is tall. The three vertical bands of blue, white and red are the same width.
Civil dignitaries, Veterans' Associations, Prisoners of War, Deportees and Resisters gather to attend a special Mass in the ancient church of Saint-Denis to honour the victims of war. They then walk in procession to the beautiful old cemetery in rue des Ursulines to lay a wreath on the tomb of The Unknown Soldier. In the afternoon, participants gather again at the theatre in Avenue des Martyrs de la Résistance before walking in procession to the impressive War Memorial in Quai du Général de Gaulle. The colours are raised and wreaths are laid.
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