Saturday, May 15, 2010
Poppies and Memory, Another View
Back home, in the Walmart Parking Lot, or out in front of the VFW Hall, Veterans sell little paper poppies to help us remember. Here, real poppies are growing wild everywhere we look.
On our drives through Provence, we have seen a war memorial in every single tiny town. The roadsides are dotted in these little nowhere-places with memorials to the Maquisard Resistance, decorated with French Flags and plastic flowers. Bronze plaques list the names of the men from that place who died fighting or resisting the two world wars fought here not all that long ago.
American soldiers killed in those same wars are buried in tidy lines in enormous cemeteries all over Europe.
Nearly nine-hundred American soldiers killed in August, 1944, are buried at the Rhone Valley American Cemetery. They died in Operation Dragoon, a sort of Provençal D-Day, and were buried just outside of Draguignan, a few miles from here.
They landed here on the southern coast of France instead of the coast of Italy, the beaches of Normandy, or the fields of Flanders.
We're headed home in a few weeks, but they will always be here.