La Flamme sous l'Arc de Triomphe
The Union of associations of "The Flame under the Arc de Triomphe" or Committee of "The Flame" was founded on the 2nd November 1923. It was recognised as a public organisation on the 10th November 1949. It groups together 760 ex-servicemen's associations. Its aim is to rekindle the Flame on the tomb of the unknown soldier at dusk every day and, in a more general way, to uphold his memory and, in so doing, the memory of all French and allied servicemen who died on the field of honour. In 1999, its chairman was Lieutenant General of the Army Corps, Jean Combette. He was successful in breathing new life into the Committee of the Flame, in the sense of the much more universal concept of the act of revival. The past is now associated with the future, taking into account the European dimension wherever possible. General Combette was particularly concerned about including younger generations in the act of rekindling by training them in the practice through en educational programme. In addition, the chairman of the Committee of the Flame has also raised awareness in the army and amongst students at military academies on the need to take part (not just when on honorary detachment but as soldiers and citizens) in the rekindling ceremonies.
Extending the opportunity to carry out this act of remembrance to the whole of the civilian community was brought about by a certain number of practical measures: [list]the statutes of the Flame were modified by the General Assembly of 2000 to no longer restrict the carrying out of this symbolic task to ex-servicemen; [list]on the 26th June 2000 the Committee of the Flame signed an agreement with the general management of the ONAC (Office National des Anciens Combattants or National Office of Ex-Servicemen) to allow the regular participation of young people in the rekindling ceremonies and laying down the practical details of the education programme. The ceremonial format for rekindling the flame was adapted and updated to allow better participation for those involved in the ceremony. For example, in 2003 two ceremonies demonstrated the improvements made with support from the Ministry of Defence: [list]on the 9th May, young French and Germans rekindled the flame together and placed flowers on the tomb of the unknown soldier. German and French choirs took part in this ceremony; [list]on the 11th November, two teenagers stood next to the President of the Republic as, for the first time, he rekindled the Flame in memory of the flame that was lit 80 years ago by André Maginot. Since May 2009, the Chairman of the Committee of "the Flame" has been Army General (2S) Bruno CUCHE.