This week I was invited to the French Foreign Legion Medal Ceremony for six US Veterans in Windsor, Colorado.
Let me tell you, it was one of the most profoundly moving moments I have ever been a part of.
LT Leila Morrison, LT Armand Sedgeley, 2LT William (Bill) Powell, SSG Philip Daily, SSG Harry Moroncelli and (posthumously) CPT Joseph Grahm were awarded the Knight -or Chevalier- medal for their outstanding service and dedication during WW2.
After the bagpipes and the colors were presented, both National Anthems were played. No words to the music, but it was quickly apparent which veterans in the audience had served in France as they all saluted the flag and sung the anthem in French. When the Star Spangled Banner began playing, it started as a few bars hummed and them everyone sang with passion. There were tears rolling down cheeks- it was that emotional.
While I was observing the people around me, the line from that Abba song flashed through my head “I can see it in your eyes- how proud you were to fight for freedom in this land”.
Each and everyone of the medal recipients was extremely humble and truly don’t think they did anything that anyone else wouldn’t have done.
Solely by chance I had met Leila a few weeks prior to this. What a story! Leila graduated nursing school at 22 and immediately joined the Army as a nurse and was sent to field hospitals on the front lines. She was at both Normandy and Battle of the Bulge caring for our wounded warriors. After that she was on hand at the liberation of Buchenwald concentration camp. After that she was returned stateside and married her sweetheart when the war was over.
OH! The questions I wanted to ask! Don’t get me wrong, I loved that she shared parts of her story with me, but there was so much more I wanted to know! It simply wasn’t the place to go asking a zillion questions.
The room was packed with friends and family and many, many local servicemen from all branches. LTC Huffman gave background on the recipients and really brought the stories to life with photos and antidotes. The Hon Christophe Lemoine from the French Consulate gave a very moving speech that also had people wiping tears away.
God bless these men and women who have given us so much.
Memorial Day is special to us. I am a mother of sons who serve. A daughter, niece, granddaughter, great granddaughter (and even further back) of gallant men who have given me the freedom to live here in this wonderful country.
We live in the center of everywhere…. 25 miles to this town, 20 to that one, 18 to another and so on…
This year we chose to go to Washburn (22 miles) for their 133rd Memorial Day service.
Small towns provide a level of interaction and accessibility not found at large events in bigger cities.
By far, this photo on the right is the best capture of the day. It speaks volumes.
And it is fabulous that you can right up to Ray W and just chat away.
Small towns celebrate everybody- Washburn has a ‘Wall of Honor’ hanging – and EVERYBODY from here has an embroidered star with their name on it that has served or is serving.
Our speaker for the day was my dear friends father Lt. Col. Kroh- he spoke on military medics and how they have changed from the Civil War forwards. It was really quite interesting.
Small towns also do a ‘Roll Call of the dead’ . They name each name, what war (or wars) they served in- Civil War, Indian, Spanish-American, Korean, Vietnam ,right up to today. And also give the cemeteries where they are buried.
It is very moving.
Part of the ceremonies is the 21 Gun salute at the cemetery. This was particularly moving~ Lt Wicklander WW2 Vet, even though he can barely get around INSISTED on standing for The Colors. BRAVO!!!!
Small towns have parades, pot lucks, and all manner of folks visiting. Patriotism is everywhere.