Friday, November 10, 2017

French society 'Les Fleurs de la Memoire' adopts graves of fallen American servicemen

French heritage group members honor John Paul Hurdle's grave
    A couple of years ago I got a call from a lady up in Missouri who had visited Normandy on or around the D-Day anniversary. She saw some people in uniform paying honor to one of the graves so she took some photographs. She then returned home and tried to find some relatives of the deceased soldier.
    The soldier’s grave being honored was that of my uncle, John Paul Hurdle, who died when his plane was shot down in the run-up to D-Day. The lady who took the photos found me I think through my postings on In any event, she called me and shared the story and the photos with me.
    It seems the men in uniform honoring the memory of various fallen soldiers were members of an organization called Les Fleurs de la Memoire, or Flowers of Memory, which encourages individuals or families to adopt the grave of an American solider and honor it with the placement of flowers, since this can’t be done by their own families. NPR has a story on this organization back in 2008.
    I found a website called “Together We Served” that had all of the details of Uncle Paul’s military service. It’s pretty interesting. They have done a lot of work to put this information together for so many soldiers.
    Three or four years after the war, one or more of the crew members from Uncle Paul's plane made a courtesy call on my grandparents and told of the events on the day Paul died. They said their plane's engines were knocked out and that everyone bailed out of the plane, with Paul being one of the last to leave. He was shot while in the air parachuting to the ground.
    Russell Gray Houston told me an interesting story about the day the news arrived of Paul's death. He said he was good friends with the son of the manager of the telegraph office and was in the office the day the telegram arrived. The manager called my grandfather and told him he was delivering a telegram about Paul and that it was bad news. The kids rode with him to my grandparent's house and my grandfather was on the front porch crying when the telegram was delivered.
    As we remember our veterans, living and dead, let us share some gratitude to these kind and patriotic French citizens who are honoring our dead servicemen who never came home.

This photo was always in my grandparent's living room
John Paul Hurdle is fourth from left

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