The Veterans' Monument -- or Monument to the Dead -- in my village
Other than the battlefields themselves, there is certainly no more sobering reminder of the great human loss that France suffered in World War One than the Monuments aux Morts that one can find in every town and village.
When the girls were younger, I used to take them to the traditional ceremony that is held around the monument on the morning of November 11th. In the mid-90s, Gages-Montrozier still had a WWI veteran who proudly attended.
At least in small towns, these ceremonies include a reading of the names of all of the dead. After each name, the attendees say "Mort pour la patrie" or "Died for his country." It is all very solemn, almost like a mass.
Then there is often some sort of gathering, for example a "vin d'honneur," or ceremonial glass of wine. This is France, after all.
I am quite fond of our village's memorial. The soldier is beautifully sculpted, and despite the reference to the "glorious dead," he conveys sadness and mourning rather than the glory of victory.
What is bone-chilling when visiting these monuments is how very long the WWI list is, and how many double, triple or even quadruple names you find, even in small villages.
Two "Daladoire, Falguière, Junelle"...and many more doubles.
Morts pour la patrie.