Grant Community High School students participating in the nightly parade and rekindling of the eternal flame at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France.


French students from Illinois participate in Arc de Triomphe ceremony

Fox Lake, IL

Ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe
By Amanda LeBrun
(Grant Community High School French teacher)

On March 25, 2018, I had the pleasure of being able to bring a group of French students from Grant Community High School in Fox Lake, Ill., to participate in a ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I know our students will never forget! The students learned that located at the base of the Arc de Triomphe is an eternal flame and tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Every night this flame is rekindled and wreaths are laid, decorated with the red, white, and blue colors of the French flag. March 25 of this year also commemorated the 99th anniversary of the founding of The American Legion. Paris Post 1 invited our students to attend the ceremony and parade on the famous Champs-Elysees Boulevard. My father, Gary Nadeau, belongs to the post and laid one of the wreaths. It was a wonderful opportunity to participate in something authentic as well as patriotic. The tomb of the Unknown Soldier and Eternal Flame began as a way to honor those soldiers that sacrificed their lives during World War I. The Eternal Flame was first lit on Nov. 11, 1923, by Andre Maginot, French Minister for War. Since that date, it has become the duty of the Committee of the Flame to rekindle that torch each evening at twilight. Below are some impressions from our Grant students, as well as photos from the ceremony on March 25. Thank you again for allowing us to be a part of this wonderful tradition!

“This was the first time I’d ever been to one of the largest and iconic intersections in the world, so marching in a parade right through it was amazing. It brings me some peace that I got to officially pay respects to all those soldiers that died without knowing if they’d be remembered or not… I loved participating in the ceremony, and I love that the tradition will continue. Most of all, I’m happy that the thoughts and memories of the Fallen Soldier can survive in our hearts.”
-Lucas Mateski

“I am thankful that I had the opportunity to participate in this once in a lifetime experience. It was amazing to participate in this ceremony during our trip because I actually felt a part of it, and not just a tourist.” -Michelle Sauer

“I thought the ceremony was very well done and respectful. It was very interesting to see and experience another country’s memorial customs. I felt the French patriotism and the emotions of the other people there. It was a very eye-opening and insightful experience. Definitely a day to remember forever, it was so impactful.” -Marie Florov

“I enjoyed witnessing French patriotism and the respect they have for their military” -Maya Kosar

“I thought that it was very eye-opening in showing other traditions about patriotism in France, and it was a great way to celebrate the accomplishments of the West.” -Jacob Cacioppo

“I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to participate in the ceremony. I think it is very important to experience real aspects of culture and not simply be a tourist. This ceremony allowed us to do just that.” -Haley Copenhaver

Grant Community High School students along with Gary Nadeau from American Legion Paris Post #1 who laid a wreath to commemorate the 99th Anniversary of the American Legion.

Grant Community High School students looking on as a wreath is laid at the Tomb of the Unkown Soldier under the Arc de Triomphe.

Rekindling of the Eternal Flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider in Paris, France.

General thanking Grant Community High School students for attending the ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
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