Not long after I retired from my twenty-four years on staff with the United States Golf Association (changed directions--one never retires) our son, Jay and I took the trip of a lifetime.
We left our homes in middle Tennessee flew from Atlanta, Georgia to Paris, France. There we met up with a group of twenty or so and along with them, a tour guide and a retired Colonel we spent the next twelve days re-creating the route of the American soldier that would have landed on the beaches of Normandy.
The second day of the trip found us in Mere Eglise, France. Which is just a few miles inland from the Normandy beaches. Early that morning found me up trying to find a cup of coffee prior to our group meeting for breakfast. It was early and the streets of this small French village were deserted. There one does not find a Waffle House, Cracker Barrel, or A Denny's etc. Also, no Brugger's.
After walking the village a few minutes I found a small coffee shop. Walking into the shop I noticed the only one there was a young girl/lady standing at the counter. No one else in the shop. I thought "now this is going to be interesting" Often I don't even handle the English really well. The young lady smiled and in some way I communicated that I would like a cup of coffee. Evidently she understood as very shortly she returned with a piping hot cup of coffee. (And not in a paper cup)
I took my billfold from my pocket and as I started pay she said something to me that I was unsure of. I thought she said two words. Surely I misunderstood her. I smiled and said "excuse me." She repeated her words. "No charge." "Excuse me, I don't understand, no charge," I replied.
"You're American, aren't you." she ask. "Yes," I said. What she next said to me I will always remember:
" My grandparents, and my parents have told and taught me what you
did here a long time ago, we have not forgotten, no charge."
June 6th 1944. D-Day.
Hanging on the walk here in my home office is a picture of the American Military Cemetery, in Luxembourg. There are thirteen American military cemeteries in Europe, I have visited eight of those thirteen.
"We have not forgotten."
So said the young French girl....and this week or today I wonder how many folks here in our country, one---- even know what once happened and two, remember.
While on that day my coffee may have been free.....but what was done on that day, June 6th, 1944..... was not. Oh my...it was not........
May 29, 2017