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
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
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
French Military Band & French Troops 18th Signals Colour Guard and US Troops
Click on a photo to enlarge