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Historical Traveling

A year and a half ago I got a call from an old paratrooper who had been slightly acquainted with my father during the invasion of Normandy in 1944. He mailed me a copy of a photo I had never seen. It had been clipped from Newsweek in 1944 and showed my father in uniform carrying a wounded French boy. The old paratrooper said that his friend Lucien, in France, had located the retired electrician who had been the 10-year old pictured in my Dad's arms. To make a long story short, my wife, my sister and I found ourselves in Normandy in June of 1999 for some of the events commemorating the 55th anniversary of D-Day.

We had the privilege of meeting Louis, the robust electrician and his family and many other French people, who welcomed us fervently. Even young Normans are quite aware of the events of that war, which for me are only scenes from war movies. As we stood one afternoon on Omaha Beach looking up at the bluffs the invaders had had to capture I could see the huge sacrifice of the young Allied soldiers who had died there by the thousands. But this was one of the few somber moments in our trip, as we shared many delicious meals and visited the spot where the picture was shot of Louis and my father.

On our last night in Normandy at Louis's house, as we Americans tried, to everyone's amusement, to learn "La Marseillaise" in our fragmentary French, I was feeling as if we were completing a circle in history. My father, who died in 1973, would have had a great time.




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