Today, on Memorial Day, we acknowledge and give thanks to those who fought and died for our country. The French people gave a tangible reminder of their gratitude. Yesterday, at the Virginia War Museum I saw something I had not heard about.
The doughboys arriving in France must have been pretty surprised to find themselves packed into these rickety wood cars, built in the mid to late 1800's. They were referred to as 40/8s - forty men or eight horses could fit inside!
According to the plaque, the American people sent over $40,000,000 in supplies to the French after the war(s) and following WWII, these cars were sent to the United States filled with gifts from the French people. Coats of arms from each province are on the side of each car.
My great-uncles both served as medics during WWI. My uncle Fred was an extremely accurate rifleman, and hunter, but his religious convictions did not allow him to serve as a soldier. Was I ever shocked to read an account of what happened with those medics, as still does today, because they were forced to defend themselves and the ones they were trying to save. I was naive to think that because he was a medic he did not have to fire upon someone. He came home to an epidemic of Spanish flu, his home region of Michigan under quarantine, and was asked as a medic to stay where he was and help with the dying and dead. He did.
Gratitude - we thank those today who gave their all. This tangible gift from the French people is a reminder of the attitude we should have.