Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"War and Peace" Bastille Day (Fête Nationale) fireworks at the Eiffel Tower. Imagine!

The Eiffel Tower illuminated for the Bastille Day celebrations.

Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the crowds of people singing La Marseillaise, France's national anthem, on the Champ de Mars last night, I fervently wanted to be French. It happens every July 14. A feeling of pride for a country that isn't my own sweeps over me, and I momentarily wonder how difficult it would be to obtain French citizenship. In actuality, it doesn't make any sense because my Swiss passport entitles me to live, work and pay taxes in France ... just like a French person. But, nonetheless, the thought always enters my mind.

That's why I was troubled to hear that French politician Marine Le Pen had recently called for a ban on French citizens holding double nationality. After clashes between police and soccer fans during the World Cup, Le Pen told iTele news channel, "They must choose: they are Algerian or French, Moroccan or French, they can't be both."

Madame Le Pen, I beg to differ ... but it's completely possible to be both. As an American/Swiss resident of Paris, I am deeply and irrevocably connected to the country and people of France. It is my home. I often compare my dual citizenship with having two children. There's room in my heart for two countries, and even more.

While intended to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War, the theme of this year's Bastille Day (Fête Nationale) fireworks was a chilling reminder of all that's wrong with our world today. When the darkened Eiffel Tower was symbolically engulfed in flames, I had a frightening glimpse of what our future may hold.

Unless...

Wondering how the firework display could end on a positive note, I had an "aha" moment when the first notes of John Lennon's Imagine immediately united the international crowd on the Champ de Mars. In unison, people started singing:

... Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one...

Bravo and thank you to the city of Paris for encouraging us to imagine what our world could be!


The Eiffel Tower during the firework display on Bastille Day.

10 comments:

  1. Somehow I doubt that Le Pen would find it so difficult to imagine someone being Swiss and French at the same time.

    I watched the fireworks from one of the bridges, so the symbolism of the display wasn't nearly as clear. Your post kind of made me wish we'd braved the Champ de Mars after all!

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  2. Thanks for your comments. I love your FB posts. I'm a dual citizen, Canadian and American, and I can fully imagine being loyal to both :-) I'm also a Francophile, having travelled to France almost every year since the 80's.

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  3. I was thinking last night that it would be good if they lit the tower in bleu, blanc, rouge for the rest of the year. Hearing the entire Champs de Mars sing the Marseillaise was quite moving and unusually patriotic for the French. Hollande could use some "Made in France" espirit and it would be a nice change. Thanks for the great photos and sentiments MK!

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  4. I just cried all over again! Thank you for the thoughtful post.

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  5. I wish I could have been there to celebrate with you!

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  6. Great post MK! I wish I had been there, but you brought it to life for me...

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  7. Wonderful post. I sent it on to my Friends back in the US. It was great to be with you and your wonderful friends here on the 14th.
    Carolyn

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  8. Great recap and thoughts on the show. I really didn't know what to expect when I heard the theme was "War and Peace," but the show was powerful and moving. And how spectacular to see those fireworks being shot off the tower itself, and those two acrobats?! Incredible show...your last picture really captures it all!

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  9. Thank you, MK, for such a thoughtful post. The "Anti" (I think of Le Pen as the 'Anti') in this country pains me just as much as the Antis in our own country across the pond. I think my reaction is the same as Donna's above. Even though I know those John Lennon lyrics by heart I let my eyes linger over each line in the sadness that the world isn't as one. Not quite yet.

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  10. Great post, I am in the same boat as you, an expat in France loving my adopted country but allowing myself to love my birth country too - of course those of us who are enlightened and embracing of others cultures, beliefs, heritage, traditions can accept there is room in our hearts for more than one as you say... so sad to think otherwise...

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