Sixty-six Thousand and Thirty Three

I received a chain email from my father a little while ago. Forwarding chain letters is something I have never been able to break him of.

Yet, this one is different. Sure, it has the exhortation to "pass it on to everyone you know!", but I think in this case, it may be warranted.

The email was a pictorial roll call of our WW II dead, and the French cemeteries in which they slumber. The list is grim and poignant:

  • Aisne-Marne Cemetery: 3,349 Americans killed
  • Somme Cemetery: 2,177 Americans killed
  • Brittany Cemetery: 4,908 Americans killed
  • Oise-Asne Cemetery: 6,253 Americans killed
  • Epinal Cemetery: 5,679 Americans killed
  • Rhone Dragungnan Cemetery: 1,155 Americans killed
  • Lorraine Cemetery: 10,933 Americans killed
  • Meuse-Argonne Cemetery: 15,200 Amercans killed
  • St. Mihiel Cemetery: 4,437 Americans killed
  • Suresnes Cemetery: 998 Americans killed
  • Normandy Cemetery: 10,944 Americans killed

That equals 66,033 American dead who are missing or buried in France. Many, many others made it home, and rest peacefully in their mother soil. The numbers given do not include other brave Allies who also fought and died, to be buried in France.

Sixty-six thousand and thirty three Americans, alone. That is an unbelievable sacrifice, isn't it? Ten thousand, nine hundred and forty-four of these died in Normandy. Every one of those digits has a name; perhaps their faces remain locked in yellowing family albums, or fade in dusty attics. They were men from every walk of life. They were tall, short, slim, heavy, light-haired, dark-haired; brown, blue, and green-eyed. Some were grim, others were merry sorts. Each one had friends, family; things and people they loved.

They are not numbers. They were men who felt that it was their sacred duty and calling to go forth in defense of their world. They fell in a foreign land. Some of us will never forget them.

Fifty-nine years later, in 2003, America asked France to help us put paid to another regime that would have made Goebbels squirm with delight. It was the first time we'd ever asked them for help. They declined, which is certainly their right.

The insult is the fact that the French government did more than decline. They have also sneered, scoffed, insulted, and actively sought to obstruct America from our goal of a safer world; one free of terrorism.

What's more, that government has been implicated in illicit oil deals with the regime of Saddam Hussein. They seek the establishment of an authoritarian socialist government in the form of the European Union, after so many of our own died to give them personal liberty.

The insult is the fact that despite the sacrifice of sixty-six thousand and thirty three men, the French government yet plays nice-nice with dictators and terrorists.

What's more, President Chirac is quoted as having warned East European nations that he would oppose their admission to the EU, if they sided with the US in our War on Terror.

Is this the action of a friend? Are they worthy of the blood our men spilled to free them? That's arguable. Our men in WW II seemed to think so -- Gods rest them.

I will remind readers that several WW II British and American graves have been defaced in the last year. The graffitti was in French.

Sixty-six thousand, thirty three.

Let it sink in.

Sixty-six thousand, thirty three.

To free the French in World War II.

Several ideas have been noised about in the interest of expressing the public's dissatisfaction with the actions and attitudes of the French government. There's an active and voluntary boycott on, even now, of French companies and products. Other folks have mentioned putting together a public fund to bring home the bodies of the men who rest in France. (Where can I donate?) Still others actively work to let their congresspeople know that it is not acceptable to award French contractors with American work of any sort -- especially the mess hall support of our US Marines.

If the idea of France's defection of friendship bothers you as deeply as it does me, there are several things to do. Try them all if you like.

But, this weekend, on June 5th and 6th, remember the men who had the moral fortitude and clarity of vision it took to march on foreign soil, and lay down their lives in the pursuit of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness not only for Americans, but for all people in all lands. Meditate upon courage, conviction, and principle.

Then, if you're as lucky as I, and have grandparents from that era who yet live, give them a call, and let them tell you their stories. You will learn much of self-sacrifice, and what it takes to achieve a greater good in your community and the world.

Sixty-six thousand and thirty three. May I live to be a worthy daughter of such courage.

posted by Linda on June 4, 2004 08:34 PM

Who Tends the Fires links with: I fought the "News" and the "News" won...
Spacecraft links with: 66,033



Posted by: A WILSON at September 6, 2004 02:50 PM