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The American Streets of Paris

Paris U.S. Street Names.jpg

American Steets.jpgThe French ruling class might be jealous of America — a sentiment born of a perception that a people supposedly so much less cultured than les français should not be more innovative and powerful — but the streets of Paris display a recognition that the U.S. saved France’s bacon on a couple of occasions in the last century (though, to be fair, the French did help the colonies in a scuffle a ways further back in history). When you are among the un-diploma’d folk here, admiration and gratitude for les USA runs deep. Last night at our local bistro, le Stella, we had Spéciales N° 2 oysters named “Utah Beach,” a sobriquet that has only positive connotations for French diners. For the uninitiated, Utah Beach was the relatively quiet American beach on D-Day, in contrast to Bloody Omaha. The Brits landed on two beaches of their own, Sword and Gold, and Canada had Juno.

Addendum: A reader writes in to share an experience and a picture:

I liked your post about the American streets of Paris. Having spent a lot of time in France (as a Dartmouth student and later as a traveler), I know that what you say about the “admiration and gratitude for les USA” by “un-diploma’d folk” is very true.

As an example, I’m enclosing a photo of a small monument that I took last June in the tiny village of Kintzheim in Alsace. I was very moved to see that the people of this seemingly insignificant place have not forgotten the sacrifice made by their liberators, the boys of Company L, 142nd Infantry Regiment. During that trip I also visited the WWII American cemetery in St. Avold, which is the largest WWII American cemetery in Europe [with the graves of 10,489 American soldiers]. It contains the remains of many Americans who died in the fierce fighting along the German border in the fall and winter of 1944-45.

Kintzheim-memorial.jpg

We do well to remember that war is not only the history of great campaigns; it is also about thirteen guys who died a little more than five months before V—E Day, fighting to free a small town in Alsace that none of them had ever heard of before.

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