Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Saturday, January 7, 2023

Reims' Monuments aux Morts

Built for the children of Reims who fell in the field of honor
by your battered city forever expressing its mourning and pride

Every city, town, and village in France has a memorial to the fallen of the First World War.  I've easily seen over a hundred of them, and I think one of the most dignified is located in Reims, northwest of the Cathedral. I think the key to Monuments aux Morts' impact is the way it integrates three separate works of art. Naturally, annual events are held at the site commemorating the end of the war, and the Second World War as well, since the German surrender document was signed nearby at General Eisenhower's SHAEF Headquarters. In the 21st century, these events have been enhanced by laser light shows.

To the Families of the Dead to Exalt the Greatness
of Their Sacrifice

Thought and Resurrection

To New Generations for Their Knowledge and Remembrance

Reims’ Monuments aux Morts was built on an open site to the northwest of the old city in the Place de la République close to the mediaeval fortifications and the Roman Porte de Mars. It is a stripped Classical hemicycle constructed of reinforced concrete. Henri Royer won a limited competition held in 1924, and the monument was inaugurated in 1930 by Minister of War André Maginot, in the presence of Marshal Pétain, Paul Marchandeau, mayor of Reims and deputy, and the Archbishop of Reims Cardinal Luçon The flanking relief groups and the central free-standing bronze figure—clearly inspired by Rodin’s Thinker—was the work of the sculptor Paul Lefèvre. After the Second World War, a memorial to the Martyrs of the Resistance in the adjacent garden.

Light Show Remembering VE Day, 1945


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