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 Proven├žal 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.


  1. Thank you for this larger view and perspective on memory. On honoring those who gave everything for generations to come. For these pictures, that enhance our recollection.

    For those of us who have been overseas - Europe, Eastern Europe - and actually walked through the battlefields and camps that have been left as tangible remembrances, there is extraordinary power in what you touch upon, here.

    Je vous remercie.


  2. Wow. These pictures are really striking. Really unforgettable. I can't imagine what the impact of seeing them in up close must be...

  3. The day I visited Omaha Beach and the cemetery nearby is one I will never forget. Your stunning pictures bring it all back and, with it, the reminder of all those who were lost.

  4. I clearly remember my time working in northern France, seeing crucifixes and memorial thanks to Allied troops for liberating the country at what seemed like every rural crossroads. I have also never forgotten visiting the Oosterbek Military Cemetery at Arnhem and, however unintentionally, finding myself as a 17yr-old in front of the graves of twin brothers, Claude and Thomas Gronert, who were born on the same day, enlisted on the same day, served together, and gave their lives within minutes of each other. Thank you for the reminder of others' sacrifice on this Memorial Day.