Gedenkfeier am 18. Juni 2019 beim Mémorial de la France combattante – Mont-Valérien, Gedenkstätte für das nationale Gedächtnis. © Soazig de la Moissonnière/Présidence de la République
France has a rich remembrance heritage, inherited from a history of contemporary conflicts that have been played out primarily within its borders. Today, war memorials, most certainly the oldest remembrance sites, museums, monuments and steles, national cemeteries and Major National Remembrance Sites trace a geography of combatant memory. The cornerstone of remembrance policy, this heritage plays a crucial role in commemorations. Indeed, remembrance sites do not always speak for themselves. “In situ commemorations” provide an opportunity to assemble veterans, officials and representatives of the younger generation, in one place, for shared contemplation. In the case of remains that have disappeared or sites where more than one event is remembered, the protagonists of remembrance are faced with a challenge: to give meaning to remembrance sites and landscapes, and make them places of innovation that offer a new approach to remembrance.