Saturday, May 23, 2009

Well, if I'm going to to it I better do it quick. A Saturday Soundtrack Posting.

It just occurred to me that I am at the maximum age for joining the French Foreign Legion. 40. They have mandatory retirement at 55 so they let no one in over the age of 40. The last time I seriously considered flying to Marseille was in early 2000. I stopped in at the French Consulate in San Francisco and picked up a brochure. But I had been thinking about it for a long time. When I got out of the US Army in 1990 the Legion sent me some recruiting materials. I understand they contact everyone who gets out after serving in an Airborne unit. But the Foreign Legion has been something in the back of my mind since even before then.

I was five years old. I remember seeing something on television about the Legion fighting in Algeria. I remember the gorgeous uniforms, how powerful and proud those men were. I also heard this song be Edith Paif. I didn't know what it was about, but I knew it was associated with the Legion. So, I was somewhat enamored with it since I was a child. And I knew this song had something to do with them. The song, written during France's Algerian war and dedicated by Edith Piaf to the Foreign Legion in 1960, has been with me ever since I saw that program on TV when I was five. (Which should be a lesson to parents about letting their children watch harmful things.)

In 1961 after years of fighting, the French empire was pulling out of Algeria, the traditional home of the French Foreign Legion. The Legionnaires of the the 1st Foreign Parachute Regiment were not amused. When several generals of France attempted to overthrow the de Gaulle government and establish an anti-communist junta, the 1st parachute regiment of the Foreign Legion joined in the coup. Other units joined, too. but the 1st Parachute Regiment was the last mutinous regiment to surrender. When they finally lay down their weapons and saw their officers handcuffed they sang this song. Edith Piaf had dedicated it to the Legion. They sang proudly: "No. I have no regrets."

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