[Editor’s Note: Today’s post commemorating D-Day comes from Wise Guise friend and guest poster Jay Salato. As a great American and student/teacher of French, he found himself in Normandy today. Please take the time to read his account of the humble and honoring opportunity he had and take the time to meditate on the sacrifices made on that day to change the face of history.]
June 6, 2012 : 68 Years Later…
…the French have not forgotten. And neither have we, proud Americans.
Today, I had the honor and pleasure of being not only in France, but also in Normandy, for the 68th anniversary of D-Day. Let me say, without being hyperbolic, that it was the most patriotic, the most American, that I have ever felt in my entire life. On this day, more so than any other day in my twenty-seven years, I am proud to call myself an American.
Let me explain. I am currently in Caen, France, chaperoning a trip through Sister Cities of Nashville. The Caen-Nashville Association has been around for years, but I am grateful that they made the decision this year of choosing me to accompany nine American high school students on a two-week foray into French culture. The students range from fifteen to eighteen years of age, and they are at all levels of French. As a French professor, I serve not only as a chaperone, but also as a guide and a translator at times.
Today was special for many reasons, but as chance would have it, I had the opportunity to give a speech at the American Cemetery at Colleville-Sur-Mer as an official representative of the United States. It was a beautiful ceremony, and in fact, it brought tears to many eyes, including my own. As a French teacher and a lover of America, there is nothing like seeing the French flag flying side-by-side with the American flag. There is nothing like seeing French people and American people standing side-by-side, conversing in a mélange of the two languages. There is nothing like recognizing that our ancestors were heroes.
I have copied the text of my brief discourse below, both in English and in French. I found many things quite moving on this special day, but one thing that was especially moving was the fact that almost everyone in the cemetery fell silent at the beginning of my speech and remained silent for the duration of it. I am pleased to share this speech with my American compatriots on the Wise Guise blog. And I hope that it inspires many to do further research on D-Day and perhaps even visit Normandy. Believe me: you won’t regret it.
Mesdames, messieurs, chers amis, chers compatriotes,
Je suis très fier, aujourd’hui, en ce grand jour mémorable du D-Day,
de représenter les États-Unis et l’amitié franco-américaine avec
En effet, en mon rôle d’accompagnateur du groupe américain, j’ai
l’honneur de remplacer WILLIAMSON Brooke, une élève qui malheureusement a le grand regret de ne pas pouvoir assister à cette cérémonie en la mémoire de son grand oncle LAMOND Norman qui a péri sous les feux allemands lors du débarquement le 6 juin et qui reste toujours ici.
Je suis très ému de me trouver sur le territoire américain qui a vu défiler un grand moment de l’histoire où la France et ses Alliés ont montré beaucoup de courage en réclamant la liberté. C’est important, le devoir de mémoire pour la paix mondiale pour nos jeunes Américains, mais aussi pour les Européens.
Quand je vois le drapeau américain à côté de celui de la France, j’espère que nous resterons ensemble et que nous serons toujours amis.
Merci à toutes et à tous.
Ladies, gentlemen, dear friends, dear countrymen,
I am very proud, today, on this memorable day, D-Day, to represent the United States and the friendship between France and America with the Sister Cities Association between Caen and Nashville.
Due to the fact that I am the chaperon of the American delegation, I have the honor of replacing Brooke Williamson, a student who unfortunately regrets being unable to attend this ceremony in the memory of her great-uncle, Norman Lamond, who perished under German fire on the 6th of June and who still rests here.
I am very moved to find myself on the American territory that witnessed a great moment in history when France and her Allies showed their courage in reclaming freedom. Remembering this is important for world peace not only for our young Americans, but also for Europeans.
When I see the American flag next to the French flag, I hope that we will remain together and that we will be forever friends.