Veterans Day: A Personal Remembrance

Norris Williard Ford, Hild's "Pop" was stationed in the township of Verneuil which was chosen as an encampment for a Motor Transport Corps factory. Camp Americain housed 8,000 U.S. troops who assembled and repaired cars, ambulances, and horse-drawn carriages for the war effort.

This past September, Hild, his family and other descendants of the soldiers who fought in the war visited the little town of Verneuil,  to help them celebrate the Centennial of their friends and the American ancestors' efforts in winning the Great War.  The following is an excerpt of the speech from the Mayor of Verneuil:

"This duty to memory is probably the most simple to transmit, but it isn’t always immediately obvious.  Modern life is sometimes superficial and can take us far from it.  We have to participate in ceremonies to remind us that we owe our liberty not only to our grandfathers, and great grandfathers but also to people who came from far away to defend our values and our liberty.

I am the mayor of a small French village where we are deeply attached to the values of liberty, equality, fraternity, and humanism. We are heedful of the present and truly committed to the future, but we are deeply aware of our past so we don’t forget who we are, and to whom we owe our being.

In France and the US, where freedom is praised as the primary motto, we have to keep in mind that this freedom has to be shared because it’s the foundation of our equality.  While today those values are flouted, misunderstood and sometimes forgotten, it’s important to remind ourselves that while mistakes were made, and it is our duty not repeat these mistakes.  The soldiers and all the ones who fought to defend peace were guided by love of their family and country.  They were led by the hope to see their children’s faces again, to live in a safe territory.  Only optimism animated them, despite the darkest days and the millions of casualties.  They had faith in their nation, in their brothers in arms.  They were bound together, regardless of their skin color, religion or political opinions.

Today we pay tribute to our ancestors, parents, grandparents and great-grandparents because it is important to be aware of the legacy that they left to us.  Their bravery, their honor, and their humanism, which led them to fight against injustice, intolerance, racism, and xenophobia have to stay in our minds as examples, so we don’t make the same mistakes again.  We have to bear their voices, take up the banner, and, in the noblest way we can, we have to keep praising the values of liberty and equality for all.”
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