Feier zum 75. Jahrestag der Landung in der Normandie in Colleville-Montgomery, 6. Juni 2019. © Laurent Blevennec/Présidence de la République
Ceremony of the 75th anniversary of the Normandy landings, at Colleville-Montgomery, 6 June 2019. © Laurent Blevennec/Présidence de la République In France, there is a passion for remembrance, whether it is honouring veterans who distinguished themselves in contemporary conflicts, paying tribute to soldiers killed in action and civilian victims, passing on to the younger generation the legacy of a past which has forged the identity of French society, or drawing on national history for values to shed light on the present and build the future. Yet when the last remaining survivors of the Second World War and Algerian War are no longer with us, why go on commemorating such distant events? The history of commemorative policies and practices themselves can go some way to answering this question and shed light on the main challenges and aims of commemoration today: to ensure history is passed on, reinforce patriotic feeling, assign importance to the sites where the ceremonies are held, educate the younger generation and transcend old conflicts to build a future of peace with the allies and adversaries of the past.