I enjoyed the time we spent yesterday at the site of the débarquement of 1944, 69 years ago. There were no actual veterans of that action present as I'd hoped (which didn't surprise me as, if there ARE any surviving American or French troops who were there then, they would be quite old today). But there were plenty of French men and women dressed in costumes of the era: soldiers uniforms sporting American flags on the shoulders, nurses uniforms, women in 1940s hats and shoes with white cotton ankle socks (because nylons were really hard to come by). There was even a "priest" in the robes of that period because there was one present to give a benediction during the landings.
There were a lot of original Army vehicles and vendors selling collectibles (I came very close to buying an American flag made of wool with the stars -- only 48! -- individually stitched on BOTH sides of the blue field, but he wanted 100€ for it and although I'm sure that may have been a fair price, it was more than I was willing to pay for something I wouldn't even be able to display regularly). And there were old documents, newspapers, and copies of the war propaganda flyers created by the various countries during that war.
So, I took photos of a little of everything. It was a really interesting way to spend an afternoon, and I was proud to talk to a few French people, and explain that I'm American and that I have a nephew serving in Afghanistan now (until October). It was the sort of crowd where that information was really appreciated.
The vehicles even did two little parades, one in the morning going in the direction of Cannes (but they didn't go that far), and another in the afternoon going to Saint Raphael/Fréjus and back. As we headed home late in the afternoon, we got to wave at all the jeeps and trucks heading back to the landing point. They sure looked like they were having a great time. (And I swear there was a guy who looked like General Patton, though I don't think he was involved in the landings in Provence in '44; he was busy elsewhere.) Isn't it nice that people in France still remember and value what it took for them to be free people again, after the Occupation?
The propaganda posters were so great, and I have so many photos, that I'll show the rest in a separate post, plus a few old photos of the actual landing.
It's amazing it's been going on 70 years now that France (and all of Europe) was a VERY different place.