Memorial Day 2011

Memorial Day is always held on the nearest Sunday to the American holiday. This year the main American guest was Edward O'Brien who is the US Consul in Rennes. During the ceremony flowers were laid on the graves by members of the Association les Fleurs de la Memoire a French group who adopt the graves. As usual my American visitors placed flowers on forty graves some of which I have adopted. Among them we the graves of Robert Todd, Roger Nelson, Leo Flaherty, Abraham Goldstein, John Daum & several unknown soldiers.

One of the most touching things to happen this year was an old Frenchman walking through the graves looking for American visitors and handing them a copy of a letter he had written and had translated the text of which I have printed below. Please feel free to pass it on to fellow Americans.

 

 

 

Thank you dear Friends Liberators

Dear Friends,

I do not speak your language, neither do I write it, but, for the past 40 years, I have been waiting for this moment, to be able to come here to commemorate and to honour my American Liberators.

At the age of 10, in 1944, was when I had one of my oldest and most vivid memories, my childhood imaginations was struck for life by painful events such as fright, pain, the sight of the death of soldiers and the joy of freedom and Peace.  It is we, who were the witnesses of this tragedy, who must honour these actors, some of whom are still with us today, while others left us.

We owe you for we………..free men.

I cannot forget the fact that the United States of America has come to our aid on tow occasions, to help us avoid a defeat during the First World War and to obtain our freedom in the second bloody conflict of the century.

In 1944, we used to be at the pavements to acclaim the smiling soldiers, marching in heavy studded boots, with contracted and threatening faces, faces full of hate.  We were then at the height of the occupation.  We used to admire your boats, your airplanes, your tanks.  We had been waiting for you for a long time, a time which seemed unending.  And then, on June 6th 1944, came the SUN.  We still feel the emotion for “Ryans” soldiers who rest in peace in the cemeteries of Normandy, they who never knew the pride of victory, nor the joy of victory, nor the joy of new-found peace.

Our Freedom was paid for with sadness, suffering and blood.

It is only you, Dear Liberators, Dear War Veteran Friends, who could witness the suffering and the martyrdom which you underwent on the battlefields of Normandy and Europe, where the smell of death mixes with the earth.  We will never forget your lesson of courage.

In this situation, was victory or death.

When I walk in the cemetery at Omaha, my prayers give me hope.  It is for us, the witnesses of this human folly to say to, and write down for the generations to come, how fragile Peace is.

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