Epinal, Les Vosges, France
As I get older I become more nostalgic about my origin, those men and women from America and France who paved a beautiful path for my life. Today, I wish to honor their sacrifices for me.
On one birthday, my loving parents surprised me with visiting my birthplace Epinal. We were stationed in Frankfurt, Germany close enough to the French border for a weekend getaway.
Fast forward to 2016 before my Maman met the Lord, one day my Denyse began sharing memories of D-Day June 6, 1944. American soldiers swarmed Southern France; my father Smitty landing at St. Tropez that August. I never thought to ask my parents exactly when they met; they married in September 1946 and eventually moved to Epinal far from sunny Provence.
Then Denyse said, “I helped with cooking at the mess hall and feeding the soldiers, and when you were born, a German POW would stay by your crib until I finished in the kitchen.” Seeing the alarm on my face Maman quickly reassured me that he was a gentle old prisoner whom she had to trust me in his care.
Epinal is the first official American military cemetery of WWII. The original wooden pegs still adorn the individual graves; here are some historical photos:
Entrance to Epinal Cemetery January 1945
Family photo dated 1947 found in my mother’s bible June 2016
The Mess Hall was in a barn
German POW’s carrying an American soldier to his grave
I learned about the history of the 46th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company that my Papa was assigned to reworking hasty burials and establishing proper grave sites for all fallen soldiers in the region.
I fathomed the hardships my parents experienced bringing me into the world under these horrible postwar conditions. My mother continued to reveal their brave love story. They never talked about it while my Papa was alive.
The blood-stained soil I was born on covering over 100,000 fallen soldiers is greater than my life. And now that I know that each snowflake sang a song for each fallen soldier, this gift remains beyond my parents’ graves.
Life certainly provokes us through the things that happen to us. Like Jesus speaking in Luke 8:18:
“Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have, will be taken from them.”
Tis very good to be constantly open to receive!
Epinal Cemetery 2021
Maman and Papa, thank you for all your sacrifices. I salute all the brave heroes there and around the world.
“Life is a constant dialogue open to receive birth, living and dying.”