It's Memorial Day here in the U.S., and this is just the post for it. So, rise and shine! It's a road trip!
On Friday morning, our host Jerry, Rick and I took off on a two-day road trip. We got a late start and the weather was terrible, but we were determined to head to Brittany, Mont Saint Michel and our first stop, the American Cemetery at St. James.
Jerry was looking for the graves of his uncles -- he'd been there once before, long ago. At first, we couldn't find the cemetery -- signage in the charming town of St. James left a bit to be desired. Eventually, we did find it and set about looking for Jerry's relatives.
The office was closed when we arrived, so for some time we searched among the rows and rows of white crosses.
Eventually, Walter, who was working there that day, came back from lunch and we were able to find the graves. He also gave us a bit of World War II history in the lovely chapel.
The chapel -- as you can see from this photo -- has large maps in the tile of the walls.
The flags displayed also featured those of the French and British.
Walter took us to the roof, where we could see an overview of the cemetery through the pouring rain. He explained how it was designed to match a specific plan based around the image of a sword (the center aisle) and the semi-circular borders.
He also explained there were a number of graves marked as men known only to God. These graves held a body part of an unknown soldier.
Another wall marked those who had been missing and "sleep in unknown graves."
We moved onto the graves. Walter took sand and rubbed it into the detailed etching of the name, wiping off the surface.
It allowed the name to stand out. We then took photos of Jerry to share with his family.
For Jerry, it was a day of personal significance. For Rick and me, a
somber occasion and one that prompted many thoughts of the men who died
in France fighting for the Allies in World War II.
We were off again, this time to Mont Saint-Michel. But the visit to the cemetery left us with much to ponder and much for which to be grateful. As we honor all who have served, and those who are no longer with us, sending Memorial Wishes.
Lessons from the Road:
The French are dutiful, perhaps even rigid about lunch at noon. If you will be requiring the services of someone like Walter to help you find someone specific at the cemetery, call ahead or arrive prior to or after lunch!
NOTE: Two things -- first, coming up soon will be a drawing honoring my 800th post. This may be it, but I have unpublished drafts and those seem to count, so probably not! That said, comments on this post and all of this series of vacation posts, as well as the "Goodbye Mr. Gyps" post will be entered.
Second, thank you -- all -- for such kind words on that post about Gypsy. I think I've reached most of you in person but if not, please know how much your kind words, your support, your follow-up emails and cards have helped Rick and me through a most challenging and sad time.