Posted: 2009-08-25

Le Muy - WWII Liberation

On Friday, August 14th, we went to the town of Le Muy for a World War II celebration.  Now, I realize that this might sound boring to some of you, but it turned out to be an extremely interesting and rewarding evening.  If you remember your world history, France was occupied by Germany during World War II.  The Allied forces of American and British troops liberated France in 1944.  First there was the invasion on the beaches of Normandy.  Then the Allied troops descended into southern France.  August 15th was the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the town of Le Muy.  The whole town turned out on Friday evening for a big party.  André and Patricia’s friend Chris lives in Le Muy, so we went as her guests.

The evening started out with a parade organized by the war museum.  We saw old military vehicles - Jeeps, trucks, an amphibious vehicle (otherwise known as a “duck”), and even a Sherman tank.  There were people dressed up as American and British troops and also some dressed as French resistance fighters.  The parade of vehicles and people came into downtown and made a tour around the main square. 


In Branson, Missouri, these are called Ducks and they are painted yellow and they drive tourists around town


I actually thought this tank was going to run over me and André


The soldiers were all, “You’d better get out of our way because we ain’t stoppin’ and we’re gonna park right where you’re standing” - they said this with their stern expressions, no words - I moved my bootie real quick-like


The troops did a marching drill around the square with the “sergeant” barking orders in English

After the parade there was a cocktail hour in the square with wine, soda and snacks, and people socialized for an hour or two.  How many of you have been to a happy hour in the middle of downtown with free-flowing drinks?  For the French, it’s not a “drunk” thing, they spend the whole time sipping one small drink and socializing with other people.


How many of you have been to a happy hour with WWII soldiers?


Gear from the parade

Our WWOOF host André was a paratrooper in the American Air Force during WWII, so he wore his U.S. Air Force hat.  As I tell you this, you have to remember that the German occupation was very tough on the French people, and they were so happy when they were liberated.  Well, André was a celebrity in Le Muy.  People asked for his autograph and asked to have their photo taken with him because he was an American WWII veteran.  There was a group of young men who were dressed up in uniform for the parade, and this group came over and talked to André forever.  They were so excited to be able to talk to a real American veteran, especially one who speaks fluent French.  I can’t explain how cool it was to see this cross-generational discussion.

Then there was a dinner in an adjacent plaza.  We had a traditional Provençal soup called “pistou” (made from pasta, vegetables and basil), bread, cheese, wine of course, and apricot tart.  The dinner was followed by a movie which told the story of WWII from the perspective of the town.  At the end of the movie, there were photos of the American and British vets who were in the audience that night.  It was so awesome to see this whole town stand up from the dinner tables and give a standing ovation to the vets who gave them their freedom.  Wow.  I won’t tell you that it made me cry.  (Even though it did.)  As young Americans, Chad and I just don’t understand the magnitude of WWII or the impact of being an occupied country. 


The plaza where the dinner was held - you can see the movie screen at the far end - the stage and stage lights are behind it


A photo of our table - Chad is in the brown shirt on the left, André is sitting next to him, and then Patricia is sitting next to André

As soon as the movie was done, there was a free concert in the square.  It was typical French music with accordian, people dancing, laughing, happy.  It was truly an evening of celebration and thankfulness.


American and British flags in the town square of Le Muy

-Julia Abbott

Comment

Louise Hawk
2009-08-27

Oh, yes, I remember WW II very well. What a thrill it must have been for you to see those American flags waving so proudly. Do the French hate us as much as we are told they do??? xoxoxo

Juli Abbott
2009-08-28

The French don't hate the Americans at all. I think this is a very old stereotype, and I'm not sure where it comes from.

Louise Hawk
2009-08-28

That is good news. I'll be sure to speak up when I hear someone speaking bad of the French. Maybe you just happened to run into good people.

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