In a show of goodwill, the French Ministry of Defense hosted its 76th Annual Summer Retreat this past weekend, providing soldiers and their families a welcome respite from the stresses of military life.
“The French military has a proud tradition of grand retreats,” said Minister of Defense Jean-Yves Le Drian. “It is part of our heritage and our culture as a people to withdraw—sometimes from German tanks; others, from the rat race.” Hosted during the traditional August “vacances” vacation period, the government-sponsored event has become a seasonal highlight for servicemen typically unable to take unplanned leave. Activities for the weekend included camping, barbecues, and a backwards fun run.
This year’s Retreat comes nearly a century after the tradition’s unlikely start. “When the French military held its first true retreat in Summer 1940, I don’t think anyone could’ve predicted the longevity,” said General Bertrand Ract-Madoux.
According to Le Drian, the event has modernized some since its inception, but the core retreat spirit remains: “The improvised white flag arts-and-crafts is truly timeless,” suggested the Minister.
As of press time, several French cabinet members were still waiting in line for the rock wall.