Memorial Day 2020

It can’t all be John Philip Sousa today…. Pete Seeger captured the day best. Thankful that my grandfather, father and uncles, and my brother and son….all came home safe.    SDH

US Cemetery, Normandy, 2017

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13 responses to “Memorial Day 2020

  1. I was eight when I walked among those markers with my father and brother. Then I didn’t fully appreciate why my father removed his shoes, but we all did. We drove the lanes through the hedgerows where the rusting remains of busted tanks dotted the hills nearly 20 years later. We stopped at, but didn’t enter, a German cemetery equally immaculately maintained.

    England, Canada, the United States, and Germany annually send checks to France to maintain those cemeteries. Only the German checks are cashed.

    While a trip to Normandy may not be possible, you can drive to Yorktown, park at the French redoubt and reflect on the words, “a grateful nation”.

    • We were told in ’17 that every French school child still visits. Has every American school child been to Arlington? That’s where I should have gone today. Because I do have a family pass….

      • Day’s young.

        1960 to 63 was a bit of a rough patch in Franco-American relations but for an young boy, it was a wonderful and eye opening time. To be honest with ourselves, we were a bit like the cousin who comes over, fixes your car, and then spends the next two weeks on the pullout and digging in the fridge. But it was the Cold War, and Dad was assigned to SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe)

        I still have mental photographs and a few mental videos of that time and will miss them when they’re gone.

        At eight or nine, my friend and I would ride our bikes to Versailles on Saturday and with a few Francs would eat lunch at a sidewalk cafe. Ordered and was served my first half bottle of wine there.

        Kennedy came to SHAPE for a visit on his way to Berlin. I shook his hand.

        But without hesitation, my favorite memory was a trip lost in Paris. We asked a Gendarmes where we were. He indicates not understanding English. My older brother then asks in first year French. Again, he feigns misunderstanding. Suddenly, to all of our astonishment, Mom starts yammering at him in German (even Dad had never heard her speak German). The Gendarmes popped to attention, clicked his heels –swear to god — and in German gave us directions back to Saint Cloud.

  2. Great thought. Great presentation. Thank you. Peter

  3. Every American who goes to France should visit the U.S. cemetery and tour the Normandy beaches. Very moving.

  4. Rough patch, Nancy? DeGaulle threw us out of France in 1957. Took me a full 60 years to get back to Paris.

    • Uh yep, but it took us until 1963 to finish leaving. Believe me, I saw more than one “Yankee Go Home” spray painted on a wall.

      Look at from their perspective. They had us, Vietnam, Algeria. Lots of crap going on, and well, while we were playing “duck and cover” here, there they were preparing for “flash cremation”. Like I said, there comes a time when Cousin Clyde needed to leave.

      But all-in-all, the average Frenchman absolutely loved us, probably still does, and they are nonetheless grateful.

      BTW, they love us in Grenada too. If you knew the story from their side, you’d know why, even amid our cries against socialism.

  5. James Wyatt Whitehead V

    Captain John Quincy Marr of Warrenton, Virginia may have been the very first to be honored on Memorial Day. He was the first southern officer killed in the Civil War in June of 1861. This happened at Fairfax Court House prior to the first major engagement at Bull Run. By 1865 southern women routinely honored the fallen in very simple and respectful services. To capture the magnitude of Virginia’s sacrifice to the late unpleasantness all you have to do is visit the Gettysburg Pyramid in Hollywood Cemetery down in Richmond. The story behind that memorial is somber and humbling.

  6. During a reenactment of Revolutionary War cannons, a young French exchange student, born in the 1990s, thanked Americans for liberating his country from the Nazis, decades before his birth.

  7. Bacon. Maybe they should go to Kursk, too, if they can get a visa.

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