My Travel Blog

What the French REALLY Think About Americans

We cruised down the Canal de Saint Quentin taking our time.  Our scheduled passage through the six-kilometer (3.6 mile) Riqueval Tunnel was not until tomorrow morning.  The weather was still overcast with light showers, but our new pilothouse was keeping us warm and cozy.  On both sides of the canal the scenery was typical French countryside… so, absolutely spectacular.

Rabelo reflected on the mirror smooth canal.

Wow, did we get lucky today.  We were parked just before the tunnel by the little village of Le Champ Luseaux.  Lisa and our friends Bruce and Tess went for a walk.  I’m not sure whom they ran into, but he told them there was a big party in town at 5:30 that afternoon.

We went to see what the excitement was all about, and were we surprised.  People ask me, “What do the French think of the Americans?”  If a picture is worth a thousand words then take a look at the following.

Note the position of the American flag on the city hall verses the French flag.

More American flags.

That’s right, American flags were everywhere.  There was even one in the place of honor on the city hall.  You might want to take note that it is above the French flag.  And the reason for all those flags, well the people of Le Champ Luseaux were celebrating our Memorial Day.  That’s right, every year this tiny little village recognizes the sacrifices American soldiers made so that they could be free by celebrating the American Memorial day.  They played American music over the loudspeaker system from both WWI and WWII.  They brought in various types of American WWII military vehicles, and they even had an American style BBQ with the closest thing the French have to hotdogs.  The town mayor gave a speech, and the kids from the local elementary school sang.  I’ll admit they served champagne rather than beer, but hey, they’re French.

Our friends Bruce and Tess joined us in an old U.S. jeep.

School kids singing American war tunes. Note the U.S. Officer in charge of American war memorials in France standing next to the mayor.

This French soldier looked serious.

Apparently there had been an even more elaborate ceremony at the American cemetery a few miles away in Bony.  We were told that during WWI the Germans had erected the Hindenburg Line that went through the area.  It was supposedly a line of defensive positions that could not be broken.  The British and French had been fighting the Germans, and were basically worn out.  It was not until the Americans came in with their men and equipment that the line was broken.  It was said that the breaking of the Hindenburg Line was the beginning of the end for the Germans.

More French dignitaries.

Lisa and Tess with a French nurse dressed in uniform.

Watching these people remembering our departed soldiers was an incredibly emotional experience.  It made each and everyone of us feel damn proud to be an American.  It was a Memorial Day celebration we will never forget.  Please don’t forget that we owe a debt of thanks to our veterans.  They deserve our gratitude, and the best care available.

-Tom Miller
Author of “The Wave”  and “When Stones Speak”– 
Chuck Palmer Adventure novels

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About the Author:

Tom Miller graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Science in Geology. He is a consummate adventurer with over 1,000 dives as a recreational scuba diver, and an avid sailor who has traveled 65,000 miles throughout the Pacific including the Hawaiian Islands. Miller has also cruised the canals of Europe on his canal barge and given numerous lectures on cruising the canals of Europe, as well as sailing in the South Pacific. Piloting is also an interest of Miller's, and He has completed over 1,000 hours flying everything from small Cessnas to Lear jets.