Since I lived in Québec I always wonder what Je me souviens means to them.
This cryptic stuff seems like a feeling in the air du temps that is immaterial, no one can tell you what it is, but is there. Something everybody ignores, but everyone shares that makes them special.
It is unsettling to see this written everywhere, to see every one agree it is important, but unable to tell you what it is.
It has something to do with their french speaking identity, but also something more, their rude, uncanny free ways. If Québec is important to me, it is because it triggered my own Je me souviens.
Grand ma was sometimes telling me souviens toi de la Saint Barthelemy.
When I say I am huguenot it is a partial lie, but my brain has this je me souviens strongly imprinted.
What was the Saint Bart?
During the absolute monarchy, my family who was french since the roman and non catholic christians were persecuted. St Barthelemy was a night during which the dragons went to kills protestant in their sleep in the name of the catholic religion.
Then the protestants good were seized. And then, they were kicked out of France.
My family joined the eastern diaspora. The western diaspora went to the new world, in America. 300 huguenots were in the Mayflower, some went to Acadie (and were later persecuted again for other reasons).
Both diaspora wished for a freer world were persecutions (including religious one) would stop.
My family is threaded with links from all European country that accepted refugees: Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland ...
When France showed up signs of re-opening itself once again, they went back.
Just to be persecuted once again, because in the context of the growing world war one ... their involvement in working hard to tie germany and france was seen as suspicious.
They also were militing for a laïc country. Not one in which religions are authorized or regulated, but just a private matter separated from the state. In both ways : religion don't tell the state what to do or say, in exchange religions leave the state to its duty of social concord. A pure orthogonality of state and religions.
In the beginning of the XXth century the french national assembly took 1 hours do debate if the Glaenzer family was in fact patriots enough. Exposing to the nation the life and accomplishment of the kids. A grand national bullying/doxing to show how suspicious a 3rd generation (re)-immigrated family was. Nothing to do with religion. Just raising nationalism.
After this 3 of the 6 kids went to America. 3 stayed. I belong to their descendants.
Then world war II came, yet another part of the family went to take refuge in the USA over the fear of being alsacians.
And then my generation came. And I met randomly a new cousin from another branch that just immigrated to Canada and we celebrated our weddings. It is awesome to have been with my 2 distant cousins of this family.
Since centuries, my families have been marked by persecution, or economical immigration seeking refuge all around the world while being contributors to exchange and wealth of nations. Bringing knowledge, know how, entrepreneurship. They never victimized.
They never gave hope, always rebuilding, resettling integrating and raising again, bringing their support to a more tolerant society.
But, sometimes, a little voice murmure in our ears that we should always be scared and that dark times don't announce themselves. We should always be vigilante.
Je me souviens... de la Saint Barthélémy is my personal je me souviens.
I am pretty sure this words of wisdom are still orally transmitted in a lot of huguenot families ... something is itching.
Just to be sure: here is my gift to the english speakers. Some old french wisdom that is part of North America's great history: Souviens toi de la Saint Barthélémy.