Memorial Day 2006

A happy Memorial day to you all, it may be a little early, but here in Normandy because it is not a public holiday in France we have our ceremony at the American Cemeteries on the Sunday before.
After two miserable weeks the rain and fog lifted, but still a pretty grey day.
We joined members from Association Les Fleurs de la Memoire in our local town for the coach ride to St Laurent. Several thousand French and Americans had made the pilgrimage here, and all the graves were dressed with French and American flags. These are donated by the American Overseas Memorial Day Association.
At 10:30 the USAF flew over the cemetery and there followed a service of remembrance. The main speaker was General William T. Hobbins who commands the USAF in Europe.
The American Consul Ms Virgina Murray represented the American Embassy.
Religious leaders from all the major religions also offered prayers.
After the service whilst the various groups laid their wreaths the members of Les Fleurs de la Memoire laid flowers on almost all the graves. The members are not supposed to purchase flowers to put on the graves. They bring flowers from their gardens not because they are mean, but because the American's buried here died on the soil of Normandy and it is fitting that the flowers should have been grown in Normandy in the gardens of the members. This is a wonderful idea, but spring is over a month late this year and many of us had no choice but to purchase flowers.
Elaine and I have four graves that we have adopted, we used to have many more but as the numbers of people joining the association has grown, we have lost graves to new members.
We met a couple of Americans at the cemetery and press ganged them into laying flowers for us. We are there most weeks with flowers. I had already visited the second American Cemetery last week with a group of Americans and laid flowers.
As usual at this event there was a Jewish gentleman from Caen who was interred in a German Camp as a young man. He has his camp number tattooed on his arm, a chilling reminder.

Les Fleurs de la Memoire  R A Todd    A Goldstein  R Nelson     L Flaherty    R Herbert    M Johnson    T Smith

                   Ms V Murray P Thomines W Hobbins            French & American Troops      Sgt E Math   Camp Survivor

French Military Band & French Troops 18th Signals Colour Guard and US Troops 5th Signals

Click on a photo to enlarge

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