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In 2022, 32,000 young people participated in universal national service, on a voluntary basis. Testimonials.
The ritual has been the same since 1923: every evening, a tribute is paid to the unknown soldier under the Arc de Triomphe, in Paris. That day, high school students take part in the ceremony. They are SNU (Universal National Service) volunteers. Would it be a way to awaken the patriotism and commitment of 15-17 year olds? The volunteers live in a former barracks in Provins (Seine-et-Marne), converted into a school.
“Building cohesion around living together”
The day begins at 8 a.m., at attention. They sing in chorus the Marseillaise. “It’s very beautiful, the fact that we are all gathered around the flag, to raise the colors of France”, confides Amélia, 15 years old. “Raising the colors every day is a significant symbol of belonging“, considers for his part Bruno Toullalan, head of the SNU center in Sourdun (Seine-et-Marne).
155 teenagers have chosen to exchange their holidays for this stay. They are supervised by reservists, facilitators and National Education staff. “One of the objectives of this stay is to create cohesion around living together, around the rules of the Republic“, details Bruno Toullalan.