The importance of remembrance became clear at a very early stage – and today it is more crucial than ever. For, according to an IFOP survey for the Jean-Jaurès Foundation, 21% of 18-24 year olds have never heard of the Holocaust (December 2018 survey).
The ONAC-VG: National Office for Veterans and Victims of War
This government department has a threefold remit: recognition and compensation, solidarity, and remembrance. The ONAC-VG organises initiatives for celebrating, sharing and passing on the memory of contemporary conflicts and the values of the French Republic. These initiatives are particularly aimed at the younger generations.The Office also manages and showcases the memorials coming under the Ministry for the Armed Forces. These include 9 key national remembrance sites, 274 national burial grounds and 2,200 war cemeteries. In connection with World War II for example, this government department thus manages :
- The former concentration camp Natzweiler-Struthof
- The Memorial to the Martyrs of the Deportation, in Paris
The Bleuet de France, the French remembrance charity
The Bleuet de France, which refers to the blue cornflower, France’s equivalent of Britain’s red poppy, is a charity run by the ONAC-VG. Its mission is one of solidarity and remembrance and, in this way, the Bleuet de France provides support that meets the needs of serving men and women, veterans, victims of war and victims of terrorism.
The Bleuet de France also gets behind projects that preserve and promote the history and memory of contemporary conflicts so as to champion France’s civic values.
But for its initiatives to succeed, the Bleuet de France needs funds. And that is why fundraising campaigns are run every year on 8 May and 11 November.
Les Fleurs de la Mémoire, an association founded in 2000
The association was founded in 2000 to put flowers on the graves of American soldiers who lost their lives in France.
It all started with a group of veterans returning at regular intervals to pay their respects to their comrades-in-arms buried on French soil. Frank Towers, 30th US Infantry Division, was one of these veterans. And it was he who, on the 40th anniversary of the Normandy Landings, initiated the first veteran trips.
But in 2000, Frank lamented the fact that having flowers on the graves depended solely on veterans: “I’m getting old now and soon I will no longer be able to visit the graves of my brothers in arms resting in Normandy. In the Netherlands, the graves are laid with flowers by individuals (…)”. The idea was born and the association came into being.
The association is made up of volunteers committed to putting flowers on the tombs of soldiers buried in the US war cemeteries of Colleville sur Mer (Calvados) and Saint-James (Manche) in Normandy. Laying flowers is an act of homage to the liberators of France and Europe.
Events marking the 75th anniversary of the Normandy Landings
To commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the Liberation of France and Europe, Les Fleurs de la Mémoire is organising :
- A tribute at Utah-Beach, following its annual congress in Carentan, the Manche département, on Sunday 7 April 2019.
- Illumination of the 4,410 graves of American soldiers at the Saint-James cemetery. Young people will come and light 4,410 LED candles on the tombs on 24 & 25 May 2019
- 75th anniversary concert by an American university group, on Friday 7 June 2019, in the Espace hall of Condé-sur-Vire.
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT LES FLEURS DE LA MÉMOIRE
The Les Fleurs de la Mémoire website