Ici est tombé pour la libération…
ee-SEE ay taw-BAY poor lah lee-bay-rah-seeYAW… (Click below for the audio file.)
Here, for me, is the essence of Memorial Day: a marble plaque on a Paris street corner. Here fell, for the liberation,…. Soldiers, civilians, underground resisters, sailors, airplane pilots, nurses all over the world fight for the freedom they treasured and most of us enjoy today.
This plaque commemorates the death of one Michel Guillois, a police officer (gardien de la paix, gaar-deeYAA duh lah PAY: ironically, a peacekeeper) who was killed during the week preceding the liberation of Paris.
The French honor two dates related to the World Wars: le Jour de la Libération (Liberation Day), memorializing August 25, 1944, just five days after Michel Guillois was killed; and le Jour du Souvenir (Remembrance Day), November 11, formerly known as Armistice Day in the U.S. and now called Veterans Day.
What if you lived in a city where hundreds of plaques, on street corners and house façades, in churches and on banks, were staring back at you right at your eye level, calling your attention to these people you never knew? Would you walk by with your eyes on the sidewalk? Or would you pause to wonder what made each one of these individuals important to you?
(If you want to read a little more about these plaques, go to this link. The link within the article does not always work, but keep trying. The photos of the plaques are very moving.)