Duke Blue Devils to Meet Their Namesakes in France

Weekend event recognizes connection between university mascot and French Army unit

Duke Blue Devils to Meet Their Namesakes in France

Those talks were put on hold during the pandemic but were re-started in September 2022.

“Our French partners have done a lot of logistical planning, and all of our locations are in some way connected to the military,” says O’Neill.

File photo of Duke's Blue Devil mascot with an unidentified French soldier.

The event takes place in one day, but in three parts: It will start at the Château de Vincennes, which was used as a royal residence and fortress from the 12th to 18th century. Later in the day, the celebration moves to the Arc de Triomphe, which honors those who fought for France.

Vikas Patel, president of the Duke alumni board, will lead the delegation with a representative of the French delegation and place a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. France’s Blue Devil Brass Band will come from Grenoble for a special appearance.

“The fun thing is even though it is their brass band, I worked with our band director, and we sent over the score and they will play ‘Dear Old Duke’ as part of the ceremony,” says O’Neill.

Patel will join the ranks of many famous people, including the late Queen Elizabeth II and former President Jimmy Carter, in signing the Golden Book, creating a record for Duke’s history books.

The event will cap off the evening at the Hôtel des Invalides for a reception where Duke alumni who live in France, students who are participating in the Duke in Paris program and members of the French delegation will attend.