It’s too difficult to fully communicate the honor our veterans receive while in places like Normandy and Belgium. People there are overwhelmed with gratitude that these men put their lives on the line to free their countries and defeat Germany. Here is a letter from a woman we met while in Normandy (the letter has been edited for length):
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Hight,
I was very shaken and proud and in awe to have been able to meet WWII American veterans. I would never have thought that possible and here there were eleven in front of me. From my dad and my grand mother’s memories, American soldiers who came to rescue France were more than heroes. I was brought up feeling that way and you can imagine how wonderful it was for me to be able to thank them myself. I called my dad that night and the first question he asked was “Did you thank them? Because we owe them so much!”
My dad was a 9-years-old little boy when the war finished and he told me so many times about American soldiers helping us. I just loved meeting those gentlemen (and I pride myself of being one of the French ladies who have kissed an American soldier came to free my country! though I could never have imagine it would ever take place 69 years later.) The few gentlemen to whom I talked told me to pass it on to my children. So please tell them from me something else too. I’m a teacher in a junior high school close to Paris. When I got back to school I mentioned to my students that I had lived a wonderful experience on my school break. They wanted to know about it. I hesitated a while because where I teach the children have many problems and are not known to be able to concentrate or respect teachers. I thought they wouldn’t understand what I had lived in meeting WWII veterans, but I decided to give it a try.
First, I discovered they didn’t know a bit about WWII. One vaguely thought about it being in the Forties period. So as you see there were many explanations to give. Well, I did, and the 27 of them just listened in complete silence for 45 minutes!!! I told them about me being so thankful to have been able to meet veterans and then asked them what they would have done. And it came as, “I would have said ‘thank you’. Can we meet them too, Miss? Please take us to see the veterans you met! You have to take us!”
So please, tell all the gentleman whom I met that I’m passing on, and I told my students to pass on too. I was enthralled by their reaction because believe me, I’m not working in a nice and cozy area. But those kids just listened with all their ears. So please, from a bunch of 12-years-old from France : THANK YOU!!!!! That just makes my experience even more wonderful. If I ever can take them to Normandy, I will, and who knows, they might meet veterans like I did! I’ll go now. I also wanted to tell you that I bought the local newspaper the day after we met. There is a little article about the veterans. It’s in French of course, but I intend to translate it and to send it to your association.
By the way if I can do anything now or later helping you with French or something related to France, I would be glad to oblige. Thank you for what you do, it’s marvelous! Please do also tell hello from me to all of the gentleman that remember me. Thank you. It was a great honor and a pleasure to meet them and talk to them.
(French mother of four)