...Continued from page 1

At one point, the high–tech panels at Arromanches which had been showing D–Day images and film spread over 11 vertical screens, fixed on one single image of a banner across a street in a liberated village. It read in English, 'Thank you for deliverance.'

Jacques' Longest Weekend

Without doubt the weekend of ceremonies marking the 60th anniversary of the D–Day landings was the most complex show put on by France in recent years. In comparison, the staging of Olympic games might be mere kid's stuff.

First, there were all the arrangement to accommodate the veterans and their families. For these rooms and suites were booked in Paris' best hotels and transport was arranged for airport connections and for transport to Normandy. The veterans were the heart and soul of the show.

There were something like 22 heads of state plus some royalty invited, as well as the presidents of the United States and Russia. Allied troops were also imported to be part of the ceremonies.

The French also added many army, navy and airforce units both in Normandy, and in Paris, where they joined thousandsphoto: reds, banner, kid of extra police on duty. The area of the US and British embassies in Paris was turned into a fortified city within a city in the 8th arrondissement. Many hotels were completely taken over by the American delegation.

Some of Saturday's '100% Reds.'

Whole towns in Normandy pitched in to ease the way for an estimated million visitors. Coverage by radio, TV, and the press was non–stop, in addition to related documentary and variety programs. And then it came down to yesterday, when the climax consisted of at least four major events, with Jacques Chirac as host at each.

And on this bright day of Monday as the grass in Normandy is being given back to the cows, six 80–year–old veterans climbed into a plane and strapped on parachutes, and jumped back into Normandy, again. They had wanted to do it on Sunday, but were deemed too fragile. This is how the longest weekend was.

Gay Marriage in Bègles

France's first homosexual marriage was performed Saturday morning in Bègles, near Bordeaux. It was done by Bègles' mayor, Noël Mamère, a leading member of the Greens Party, known as 'Les Verts.' The event saw 60 friends and family members present for the ceremony, 150 journalists, and a couple hundred pro and contra demonstrators.

The national prosecutor in Bordeaux has already said a case will be opened against the mayor for performing an illegal marriage. The mayor risks a fine of 4.5 euros, plus another fine of 1500€. He can also be stripped of his office, 'for administrative reasons.' The mayor was elected by popular vote – while the prosecutor was appointed by the Ministry of Justice in Paris.

The mayor has been under extreme pressure from the government, from the prime minister on down. If the marriage is annulled by the French courts, the protagonists intend to take the matter to the European Human Rights Court. This court has rendered judgements against the French state in the past.

The right–wing government is treating this issue as if the République were in grave danger. Yet againphoto: tuileries pool the government is misjudging popular sentiment – possibly total indifference – to make a major issue out of a minor molehill. Doing it eight days before important European elections is completely in keeping with the right–wing's notion of timing. They may have fallen into a 'green' trap.

On the other hand, if one were to give the government credit for brains, it could be using confrontation to get Brussels to force it to accept a 'fait accompli' instead of it simply deciding to change French law to conform to European Human Rights standards. Then they can say to their more conservative supporters that 'Brussels made them do it.'

It is interesting to see exactly which European measures France chooses to ignore. There never seems to be any shame, in the home of Human Rights, caused by ignoring Brussels when it suggests that France might be a bit reactionary in this area.

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