10/30/13

Remembering All - All Saints Day - A Day I Will Never Forget

This is such a fun time of year!  Full of fun Halloween activities. I'm trying to get the pumpkins carved and snacks made for school parties. But I have been remembering a Halloween that meant more to me than all the candy and carved pumpkins combined. 

I was 19 years old and I had the opportunity to go on a trip the Paris with my college. It was a trip for the interior design department of which I was a part. 


In grade school I had a dear friend who was French and she was here while her parents worked. This of course was when I lived in Palo Alto, California. But anyway, we went to school together in kindergarten and first grade. We were best friends. Then she moved back to France and we were pen pals for many years. 

Because of this early association with France, it had always been on my bucket list. 


The trip was guided and included all the main attractions. The Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre to name just a few. We also travelled out to the country to visit some Chateaux, and a few hunting cottage... If you could call it that. 


On our way back we made a stop that was not on the schedule. The guide saw the sign for the town of Oradour-sur-Glane and since we were passing buy, asked the driver to make a stop. This small village is now a memorial to those who lost their lives there during World War II. 
You may have studied the massacre in school. 


If I remember correctly, as it was exactly 20 years ago Friday, the Germans marching from Normandy were told that a German from another Battalion was captured and being held in Oradour-sur-Vayres. This group sealed of Oradour-sur-Glane, having confused it with the other village. You can guess the rest. The tour guide informed us that there were only 2 survivors, who had hid in the bell tower. 
I'm not sure if that is true. 



The women and children were locked in the church. The men were taken to a barn, and the town was looted and then burned to the ground. In all, 190 men, 247 women and 205 children were lost that day, in June of 1944. The original town has been left untouched.



As it was All Saints Day, there were lots of people there. The graveyard was full of flowers. No one was taking pictures. I couldn't not. Although my cheap camera was awful, these are some of my favorite photos. I edited them with Snapseed and now I love them even more. 



There was a cafe next to the church and the skeleton of the wire chairs and tables were still out front. 
In this home, there is still a sawing machine in the window sill. 


I studied the Holocaust extensively in high school, (a story for another post.) so this first hand experience touched me greatly. 

The US is very good at creating holiday traditions for children, whose dentists benefit more than anyone.  I am not against the usual traditions, but this year we are going to take a few moments to remember those we love who have gone before us.  


The traditional beliefs are that the veil is very thin around this time of year, Samhain is the name, pronounced sah-win or sow-in. It starts at sunset on October 31 and lasts until November 1, although it has been celebrated longer. Extra food was prepared for loved ones and seats were left for them at the table. Food was also buried, for those who didn't have loved ones to remember them. To ward off evil spirits, pumpkins and other gourds were carved. 

We have an Indian graveyard on our property. I told my children that we should take some apples to leave by the gate. They were thrilled.  And I am, in writing this post, sharing this day, that always makes me think of a small village in France.

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