This year, the ceremony was extra special because the American Consul for Western France, Mr. Robert Tate, was in attendance. All of the stagiaires participated in the ceremony at the monument with Clare Mumford, Nicolas Wernert and Amy LoBue placing flowers at the base of the monument along with other representatives of US and French military, the Brest Mayor's office and the Consul himself.
After the ceremonial placing of the flowers, all of the stagiaires sang the Star-Spangled Banner and the French national anthem "La Marseillaise"(which we had been rehearsing since the start of the program) for the large crowd gathered for the event. The stagiaires sang beautifully and we received numerous compliments on their performance.
Following the ceremony the stagiaires had the opportunity to enter the American Monument, a large tower, which is usually closed to the public. Everyone climbed the 123 steps to the top to take in the breathtaking view of the sea and the city of Brest.
Following the ceremony and the brief visit of the monument, we were invited to a private concert by the Brittany Symphony Orchestra sponsored by the American Consul. The orchestra performed two pieces by American composers and two by French composers to reflect the relationship that we were celebrating that day. The first piece was "En Resonance" composed by Benoît Menut, a Brest local, followed by "Appalachian Spring" by Aaron Copeland. The third piece was "Heliotrope" by Daren Hagen, a piece inspired by the various jazz traditions in the United States. And finally "Symphony in C Major" by French composer Georges Bizet.
The concert was followed by a reception at the Musée des Beaux Arts (Fine Arts Museum) also sponsored by the American Consul. Here host families, stagiaires, musicians and government representatives mingled, snacked and chatted until nearly 11pm.
The day was a challenge for the stagiaires and reflected all of their commitment to the Honor Code and Language Commitment as everyone wanted to speak English to them. But they were all consistent in their use of French even when surrounded by native English speakers and other Americans without the same pledge.
It was a long day, but a very memorable way to celebrate our national holiday and all were glad to have taken part in it.
Some photos from the event are posted at the link below. Unfortunately I wasn't able to take any during the ceremony as we were a part of it. But I hope to collect some photos from host families this weekend and add them to the album if possible.
The 4th of July