Epinal, Les Vosges, France
Constantly Open to Receive
Life is a constant dialogue between birth, living and death.
For my 20th birthday, my loving parents surprised me with visiting my birthplace Epinal. We were stationed in Frankfurt, Germany close enough to the French border for a weekend getaway – here’s my thanksgiving to them for my life.
Out of the blue one day my maman Denyse began sharing memories of D-Day June 6, 1944. American soldiers swarmed Southern France; my father Smitty landing at St. Tropez that August. I never thought to ask my parents exactly when they met; they married in September 1946 and eventually moved to Epinal far from sunny Provence.
Then Denyse said, “I helped with cooking at the mess hall and feeding the soldiers, and when you were born, a German POW would stay by your crib until I finished in the kitchen.” She must have seen the alarm on my face and quickly reassured me that he was a gentle old soul whom she had to trust.
Epinal is the first official American military cemetery. The original wooden pegs still adorn the individual graves; here are some historical photos:
Entrance to Epinal Cemetery January 1945
Family photo dated 1947 found tucked in my mother’s bible June 2016
The Mess Hall located in a barn
German POW’s carrying an American soldier to his resting place
Fast forward today, I learned the history of the 46th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company that my Papa was assigned to reworking hasty burials and establishing proper grave sites for all fallen soldiers in the region.
I began to fathom the hardships my parents experienced bringing me into the world under these horrible postwar conditions, such a bolt of historical mystery being revealed, an epiphany into their brave love story. They never talked about it, which now explains many things about my parents.
What a marvelous birthday gift my parents are giving me today. The blood-stained soil I was born on covering over 100,000 fallen soldiers is greater than my life, this gift beyond my parents’ graves.
Life certainly provokes us through the things that happen to us. Like how Jesus spoke in Luke 8:18:
“Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have, will be taken from them.”
Tis very good to be constantly open to receive!
Epinal Cemetery 2018
Maman and Papa, thank you for all your sacrifices and
I salute all of our brave heroes there and around the world