Discours de la cérémonie du 11 novembre 2018 à l’ambassade de France en Thaïlande
Members of the Thai Armed Forces,
Distinguished invited guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Dear friends from the French community,
Building on President Macron’s foreword, I wish to add my welcome to you all as we gather on one of the most important days of the year ; important militarily, but also I believe, nationally. I wish to warmly thank the descendants of the esteemed general Phraya Devahasin, commander of the Siamese expeditionary troops, for their presence by our sides today.
One hundred years ago, on 11 November 1918, the guns of the Western Front fell silent after four years of continuous warfare. The armies retreated and an old era collapsed. The signature of the armistice brought an end to the agony of our soldiers. It brought an end to the most terrific war people had known at the time. And it brought an end to the killing of more than 18 million of soldiers and civilians.
For more than four years now, the "Great War" — as soldiers called it — has been the object of many commemorations in France. During this period, our citizens have really shown their willingness to remember the sacrifices of the soldiers and to reconnect with their history. And we have constantly encouraged them to do so. La Mission du Centenaire, which is in charge of the celebrations at the national level, has for instance accompanied more than 6 000 certified projects within the country, and abroad.
At this very moment, the heart of Paris is beating on the rythm of these commemorations. 120 foreign dignitaries from belligerent countries of the Great War are currently reunited under the Arc of Triumph. Representatives from the European Union, the United Nations and many more international organizations are also joining this historic moment for France, for the international cooperation, and for peace.
As leaders around the world are reunited in Paris, I am deeply grateful that, once again, Thailand and France stand together to make history.
During the First World War, the Kingdom of Siam sent a contingent of 1284 individuals to support our forces. Its soldiers fought with us, its aviators flew with us, and its nurses helped us. 19 servicemen also perished with us to create, through their sacrifices, the conditions of our victory. One hundred years later, the presence of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha alongside President Macron to pay homage to our war dead and veterans, recalls the past sacrifices of our soldiers, and perpetuates our longstanding relationship in times of peace as in time of war war.
In 1918, Marechal Foch, then Supreme commander of the Allied Forces, taught us that "because a man without memory is a man without life, people without memory are people without future". In Paris as in Bangkok, in France as in Thailand, I am confident that the words of the Marechal Foch are still resonating. I am confident that we all understand their significance for perpetuating peace, strengthening our democracies and fostering our cooperation.
As we commemorate today the hundredth anniversary of the armistice, we can only imagine what the soldiers went through, picture their fight through literature, and maintain their memory thanks to traditions. Among them, the « bleuet » remains the most vivid and emblematic.
Symbol of our Remembrance Day since 1935, the blue flower was the unique sign of life on the battlefields, the unique sign of hope for many soldiers torn by war. And from the trenches to the ceremony today, the emblem of the bleuet has been kept alive by the relentless work of a century-old association, « Le Souvenir Français ». I am pleased to thank its president for Thailand for his commitment and continuing effort.
To conclude, I wish to express my deepest gratitude to the soldiers who fell serving France during the Great War, the Second World War, the wars of Indochina and North Africa, and to our young servicemen who perished during missions abroad in the past years.
In honor of the soldiers who died for their country, lest we forget.