Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Letters From France

This story in the SJ-R about the Springfield man who was among several Illinoisans honored by the French government for their part in the liberation of France in WWII reminded me of something I had not thought about in years.

Back when I was a child, my father, who worked for the State here in Springfield, had a boss who was a veteran of the Normandy campaign in WWII. I can’t remember if he landed on D-Day itself or shortly after but he was there. I think I remember the man’s name, but I’m not sure so let’s call him Mr. Vet. While in Normandy, Mr. Vet befriended a French man. This man would write to Mr. Vet fairly regularly. In French. Well, Mr. Vet didn’t know French, but he found out that my mother did (she was a French major in college). So Mr. Vet would give the letters to my father who would bring them home for mom to translate. However, I don’t remember her ever writing replies for Mr. Vet. Maybe she did.

While she was transcribing the letters, I can remember my mother reading them out loud. The French man was very expressive about his gratitude toward Mr. Vet and the United States for liberating France. I remember one reference where he compared the effort to the French assistance given to the Americans in the Revolutionary war. I was amazed at this guy’s enthusiasm even 25 or 30 years after the war.

Anyway, I have no idea if either man is still alive. A quick look in the Springfield phone book for Mr. Vet doesn’t reveal anything, but I may have the spelling wrong or the wrong name altogether.

As the WWII generation dies off, I sometimes find it hard to remember those days when they were everywhere, working the jobs and running the world. When I was a kid, WWII seemed like ancient history but the guys (and women!)who were there were all around and no more than middle aged. That seems strange now.

4 comments:

JeromeProphet said...

Nice post, thanks for sharing this.

I recently ran an Internet search for an old high school friend - see my latest post - and found him, and one of his sisters.

Try going to switchboard.com

And if it fails, click on the Intellius.com link that comes up.

I've used the free results from Intellius to look up many people I haven't seen in years.

It's funny when they come up living in far off states, and when you see their ages.

For example the fifteen-sixteen year old blue eyed blond girl I had a crush on - who I had no chance of going out with because I was too young is now 49, and her household includes her spouse's name, and the names of her many children.

A real mind blower!

And if you really want results you can fork over some money and Intellius will provide all kinds of good stuff.

I run several searches based upon the free results using several search engines, and often come up with address for free.

rickmonday said...

I checked this out on Snopes.com and it is true:

Ted Nugent, rock star and avid bow hunter from Michigan, was being interviewed by a French journalist and animal rights activist.

The discussion came around to deer hunting. The journalist asked, “What do you think is the last thought in the head of a deer before you
shoot him? Is it, ‘Are you my friend?’ or is it 'Are you the one who killed my brother?'”

Nugent replied, “Deer aren't capable of that kind of thinking. All they care about is, ‘What am I going to eat next, who am I going to screw
next, and ‘Can I run fast enough to get away?’ They are very much like the French.”

JeromeProphet said...

The French have nukes, and the means to deliver them - they don't need to run.

JP

Marie Carnes said...

Dave, every time you drop one of these snippets about your mom, I wish I could have known her. You should write her story.