Decorations for gendarmes and firefighters – Endearingly French: celebrating the Fourteenth of July in MarigotPOSTED: 07/16/15 5:09 PM
Monsieur Boussat and Madame Fabreaux of the Veterans Association at the wreath laying. Behind to the right are President Aline Hanson and Préfète Anne Lobiès. Photo Today / Leo Brown
MARIGOT – Less than an hour before the wreath laying ceremony on the Fourteenth of July at the war memorial behind the Maison de la Collectivité, Marigot was completely deserted. The streets were empty and all the stores in the Rue Général De Gaulle and beyond were shuttered down. Out of nowhere the France’s national anthem, Le Marseillaise, blasted through the empty town yesterday morning – sound technicians at the memorial site are testing their equipment.
At the seafront, seats happily colored in the French national colors red, white and blue, were waiting under a tent for dignitaries to arrive. Even business at Sarafina, the popular French bakery, was slow.
The general impression from this scenery is that French side residents appreciate a day off when they get one, but that their enthusiasm for participating in a national celebration of liberté, égalité and fraternité is something they’d rather leave to politicians and invited guests.
Behind this veil of quietude, dignitaries were already at the Catholic Church for a traditional service. At the war memorial, gendarmes were present in numbers and shortly after ten o’clock several lost tourists and a few local dropped by. The gendarmes rehearsed the ceremony they would soon be a part of – the honoring of six from their ranks, five men and one woman – with a decoration from the French state.
When the dignitaries arrived, the small square created the impression of a small crowd, but the numbers remained on the low end of nothing. And yet, the atmosphere at this ceremony was so typically and endearingly French, you wouldn’t want to miss it for anything.
Before dignitaries got to play their role by laying the traditional wreaths –not just to honor the French Revolution of 1789 but also to pay tribute to the country’s victims of war – six gendarmes marched to the front in single file to receive their decorations. Three gendarmes received the Military Medal – the third highest decoration in France. They are Adjudant-chef Nicolas Heslon, Adjudant Philippe Maumene and Maréchal-des-logis-chef Eric Nadaud.
Three others received the Medal of National Defense in Bronze: Brigadier Adrien Dericbourg, Brigadier Thomas Faucher and Brigadière-chef Laurie Jazarguer – the only gendarme to display liberal tattoos on her arms.
Monsieur Boussat and Madame Fabreaux of the Veterans Association had the honor to be the first to lay a wreath at the war memorial. President of the Collectivité Aline Hanson, First Vice-President Guillaume Arnell, Territorial Council member Daniel Gibbs and Préfete Anne Lobiès followed.
Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs, acting Governor Reynoldt Groeneveld and the Vice-President of parliament Leona Marlin-Romeo stood at attention directly behind the French dignitaries. Member of Parliament Cornelius de Weever also attended the ceremony.
After the wreath laying ceremony, the dignitaries moved to the Boulevard de France on the seafront for the traditional parade. The gendarmerie, the fire brigade with its gleaming helmets and pick axes, and others including the colorfully attired New Generation Status Drum Band led by Urmay Dormou and traditionally dressed children who danced through the street, brightened up the morning program. Representatives from the Dutch side fire brigade attended the celebrations for the first time in history.
In a pinning ceremony, three firefighters received honors: Corporal Francisco Brooks, Sergeant Antonio Rollan and Commandant Lazare Noubou.
The afternoon program consisted of sailing and bicycle races, a swimming competition and basketball and volleyball tournaments at the Vanterpool stadium.
From 4 p.m. on there was entertainment provided by the Gunslingers, the Jolly Boys, Dianaque, Shown J, Shanda Webster, Tamilia, Benjamin Bell and the Odd brothers. Also on stage came the dancers of Unexpected Crew, Anais Dance Fusion and Pinky Models. The Fourteenth of July celebration concluded at 9 p.m. with fireworks at the waterfront.