Minute of silence and Ringtone to the dead, two traditions related to the Great War

Two Republican rites, which seem to us to be deeply rooted in our distant traditions, are in fact related to the War of 14/18.

► The minute of silence

On October 25, 1919, shortly before the first anniversary of the armistice of November 11, 1918, a law relating to the commemoration and glorification of the dead for France during the Great War was passed by Parliament. It is then promulgated by Raymond Poincaré, President of the Council of Ministers and Minister of Foreign Affairs. It is to this law of 1919 that one owes the minute of silence, practiced for the first time on November 11, 1922. Previously, the custom was to ring the bells and fire the barrel …

Commemorate the Great War, a renewed duty

The People, "Socialist newspaper of the morning", under the pen of Paul Faure, comments without enthusiasm, in his edition of October 18, 1922, this astonishing choice of silence: "The Poincaré government has just, if I believe the Intransigeant last night, a pretty original idea. On the eleventh of November, the anniversary of the armistice, at eleven o'clock in the morning, "a minute of silence will gather the whole of France in a short and pious meditation". "

The author, who wonders whether "Stop trains and buses" and do "Silence the washing machines"he then compares this protocol to that of canons and bells, once privileged: "Mr. Clemenceau's manner was noisy. That of Mr. Poincaré will be silent. " He predicts, not without cynicism: "Next year, we will inaugurate another trick. " The irony is tasty, but Paul Faure is mistaken, the minute of silence has gone into practice. First specifically associated with the commemoration of the end of the First World War, its use extends to honor the victims of tragedies, attacks …

Armistice 1918, challenge for survivors

► The ringtone to the dead

The ringtone to the dead, it finds its origin during the American Civil War and is attributed to Daniel Butterfield, businessman and politician engaged in the army of the Union. This melody born on the American soil, is interpreted in France in a version composed by the chief of the music of the Republican Guard, the commander Pierre Dupont. He had been solicited by one of the heroes of the great war, General Gouraud, hero of 14-18, himself seized by the effectiveness of the American rite.

In France, the bell to the dead was thus heard only after the First World War, when the government wanted to pay a national homage to the dead fighters for France: July 14, 1931 it was played during the appointment of the Unknown Soldier, of which the tomb under the Arc de Triomphe of the Star is guarded by an "eternal flame" which is revived every day. From this period also dates the construction, throughout France, of monuments to the dead.

Emmanuelle Giuliani

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