Monsieur le Préfet, ladies and gentlemen, dear Musketeers.
Our Chapters have always been presided by men and women whose personalities have always transcended their duties of high office.
We have decided that to mark the 60th anniversary of the Company it is fitting that we pay homage to its founders and those who have worked so hard in its development : General Baston, Pierre de Montesquieu, Jean Arnaud and someone who has from the very beginning been our Secretary General, Georges Bru, who has always steered us safely through some rather stormy seas.
60 years. What is that compared to the thousands of years during which Man has always sought to emulate his heroes, real or imaginary, and who have shown him what it is possible to achieve? 60 years. During which time a man has devoted himself to his family, his business, his community, his country. 60 years existence throughout which time our modern Musketeers have been leaving their beloved Gascony for Paris, charming France, and leaving its shores to conquer all five continents.
Let us ask ourselves :
Why do we meet every year within the magnificent cloisters of Condom?
Why are we always so many?
Why is the first Saturday of September such an incontrovertibly attractive date?
The miracle of a book which, once read, can never be forgotten.
The miracle of a Europe whose bloody and torturous history has generated the heroes of our age. The miracle of a great century for France, whose art, literature and architecture has fascinated all those who love culture. Rejoice, be proud of our tradition, but always seek to be worthy of our predecessors. Always possess the spirit that reminds Musketeers that the greatest fear is to exist without living.
"One for All, All for One" is the motto which binds Musketeers together, transcending division and reuniting us this evening.
I hereby declare the 2011 Grand Chapter open.