Yesterday, the French were invading Germany. And the Germans were ready! Ready, with vans parked on the side of the road supporting huge signs advertising this or that company or product. Each year the French brave the traffic to visit Germany on November the 11th. This year we were among them simply because everything in France is closed. November 11th is a national holiday. It is to remember the first World War. I, without thinking, asked my husband why the Germans were not also taking this day to remember. After all it was a terrible memory for them as well. My husband laughed at his silly American wife and told me, “The Germans are not going to celebrate their defeat!”
Hmmm. I was not really looking at November 11th as a day to celebrate but a day to be solemn and remember. To remember all the men that died in both World War I and World War II on all sides. A day to pause and reflect on what exactly has changed and what has not changed in the world.
November 11th is Angel Girl’s birthday. I know it is kinda strange that I find it appropriate that my first child was born on her due date and Veterans Day. But, isn’t she and all children really what all the fighting was about. It was a fight for our future and freedoms. I am not happy that in America Veterans Day is really kinda forgotten. When I called Angel Girl yesterday to sing Happy Birthday to her over the phone she was getting ready to go to school as she has for the past five years. Veterans Day is not a holiday “off” any longer in America like in France. I find that very sad and disrespectful to the men that fought and died for not just their countries but for the world. Let us remember and thank them for their great sacrifice.
And for those Americans out there who do not think the French are grateful for the deaths of Americans on French soil. Come to France and you will find memorial after memorial listing American soldiers names with words of gratitude in French and in English. Where are the monuments or memorials thanking the French for saving America from the English during the Revolutionary War? Where is American gratitude? And by the way, the French did not just “give up” during the second war. Did you know that during the first World War the French lost an average of 900 men per day? Can you imagine how this could devastate a country? In the current war in Irak, America has lost a little over 1000 men total. So, when the second World War began the French did fight and ,yes, the French lost. The French did not lose because they are sissies or afraid to fight. It is the contrary. They lost because they fought so hard and lost so much during the first war. However, the French did not stop fighting. Have you ever heard of the French Resistance? These men and women continued to fight and die throughout World War II. I have seen many memorials dedicated to these noble fighters.
I know Americans like to remember World War I and World War II as wars where the U.S. saved the world. I also know that the Russians lost more men than any other country in World War II and that even if D-Day did not happen the Russians would have beat Hitler. Many men died in these wars. Many countries suffered. All need to remember these wars and the deaths of all the soldiers who fought for freedom. Freedom to live and respect other countries and not try to make them bend to one countries will and wishes. I pray we all remember and when I look at my Angel Girl I thank these men from my heart.
Six French soldiers who fought during World War I are still living with us in this world. Their names are Maurice Floquet (110 years old), Louis de Cazenave (108 years old), Ferdinand Gilson (107 years old), Jean Grelaud (107 years old), Leon Roger Weil (109 years old) et Lazare Ponticelli (107 years old) . So, the war did not happen so long ago. Did it?
I could not find the number of American soldiers still alive from the first war. If someone knows please place it in comments. Thank you.
And what of today’s world? Is it so different from the world that these soldiers were fighting in really? I do not think so. My husband found this entry while we were living in America listening to daily French bashing on the television and sometimes to our faces. I became very upset at this because my husband is French and so are my children. My family is proudly Franco-American. Well it seems my fellow countrymen are at it again. Bashing the French while I am here, in France, an American, treated with kindness and respect. Click here to read the article written by Molly Ivins.