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No, this is not a word that my children made up but a word that my fragile and aging brain created last year, when I couldn’t recall “Remembrance Day” (or “Jour du Souvenir” in French-Canada).  I had brought poppy pins with me when we moved to Paris last year, only to discover that no one in the city wore them. I guess wearing poppies on your coats is generally a British/Canadian/and some parts of U.S.A. tradition. Wearing a poppy shows your support and respect for the veterans who fought in the World Wars. Significantly, WWI ended in an armistice signed (in France) between Germany and the Allies of World War I on the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” in 1918. In France, November 11th is known as Armistice Day, and is a national holiday.

Memorials can be found in front of schools honouring the students who lost their lives in a World War.

In front of my children’s school in Toronto is a memorial to the young men who attended that school and lost their lives as Canadian soldiers in WWII. These memorials are valid reminders for today’s youth of what sacrifices were made then, for our freedom today.

This plaque outside a school in the 3e arrondissement in Paris tells of the 500+ neighbourhood Jewish children who were deported to death camps by the Nazis and the Vichy French government.

What I found very intriguing and sad in Paris is that posted outside most schools are plaques that report of the many French Jewish children seized and deported by the German Nazis during their invasion of France in WWII. It is a shocking reminder of (Vichy) France’s acqueiescent role in collaborating with the Nazis and persecuting the Jews. Not everything in Paris is lovely…

Memorial de la Shoah, fittingly in the 4e arrondissement, or the Marais in Paris, where much of the Jewish community lives.

I later discovered the Shoah Memorial, which is a free museum dedicated to the history of the Jews in France during the Holocaust (=Shoah). I came here on three separate occasions to absorb the horrific events through photographs, personal diaries and artifacts. I was numb after each visit.

The Wall of Names lead you to the entrance of the building. There are three walls, listing 76,000 Jews in alphabetical order, in the year they were murdered from 1942-44.

Paris’ history is so riddled with horrific events such as its French Revolution, the Paris Commune, and so much more; it is hard to ignore when there are reminders throughout its streets with all the plaques, statues, fountains, etc. Paris revels in her historical relevance. I am taken by her honesty.

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