May 17- The night of the Museums, in Paris



Hello dear May,

Saturday, beautiful spring weather, the tourists are conquering Paris and it is the European Night of the Museums!

Museums stay open late, are free, and offer original spectacles, tours, concerts! So, what did I choose? The Museum of the “Légion d’Honneur” the highest distinction the French Republic can offer to military and citizens.

Why did I choose this museum? Is it something I decided after considering the best of the best? Was there a friend who wanted to go there?

I have to admit that no. It is just opposite to the Musée d’Orsay, the Impressionist Museum that was our first choice, and offered dance classes. But we had to wait for more than an hour to enter. Just across the street, the Museum of the “Légion d’Honneur” without queue at the door, was waiting for us. We said yes, and entered with my friends.

Maybe his is a frivolous way to get in touch with history, power, merit. We had recently been in the terrace of the Odéon theater for a drink, and not in the mood to contemplate national glory.

It is a Museum we would never have visited, a friend said, a nice opportunity to do something different!


It is Napoleon the 1rst in 1802 who institutes this way to distinguish citizens for military and civil merit; mostly men, women start to appear in a timid way and now form 20% of the people decorated. It is inspiring to see the example of women at the resistance, artists, scientists, … recognized little by little.

From an aesthetic point of view there was the collection of the Italian Ambassador Spada, with the highest decorations of different countries, in gold and diamonds…

Honor and Glory, are they still important outside a military context? How can I transform them in everyday life to motivate action?

Do we need someone else to acknowledge our merit, for example in the form of a decoration? For the “Légion d’Honneur”, I think you need to wait 40 years. I don’t know how fast you can claim a Nobel Prize.

So if the decoration comes late, how do people maintain their effort for at least 40 years? Do they have a group of supporters? The necessary means?

I would need to investigate this. But as a guess, it could be that they have a sense of purpose. Of contributing something important.