100 days – Day 34: Memorials and Freedom
Once, in the mid 1970s, I talked to a school assembly about memorials. I no longer have the notes (it was, after all, almost forty years ago), but I remember mentioning two memorials in particular. The first is to be found in Normandy in northern France – and is dedicated to the memory of one Madame Harel. Who? Well, Marie Harel (nee Fontaine) invented Camembert cheese!
In 1791 by Marie Harel is said to have invented this type of cheese who was a farmer from Normandy. The idea came from a from a priest who was from the town of Brie famous for its cheeses. The abbey who was called Bonvoust supposedly sought refuge with Marie at her farm. In return for the shelter she offered him, he gave to Marie the secret of making Camembert cheese.
The next memorial that I talked about at that School Assembly was one erected in remembrance of Captain Hanson Gregory, of Rockport, Maine. Captain Gregory’s claim to fame is that he allegedly invented the hole in the doughnut!
This sea captain reportedly ate blobs of fried dough while piloting his ship. One day in 1847, he impaled the blobs on the handles of the ship’s big steering wheel for easy snack access. And so, the idea of the doughnut — dough with a handy hole — was born.
Rockport didn’t forget its famous son. On the 100th anniversary of Captain Gregory’s discovery, a plaque was erected at his birth site (spelling it “donut”). The building that once stood there is now gone, but the Lutheran church that currently occupies the spot takes good care of the plaque, planting around it with flowers.
Today, in the United States, Memorial Day is commemorated with a Federal holiday.
Memorial Day is a time to remember those who died while serving in the armed forces.
The holiday, which is celebrated every year on the last Monday of May was formerly known as Decoration Day and originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the war.
By the 20th century, Memorial Day had been extended to honour all Americans who have died while in the military service.
Memorial Day is not to be confused with Veterans Day; Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving, while Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans
But let’s leave Doughnuts, and this Special Commemoration of Memorial Day in the USA, and go back to Normandy
Not to the memorial to the inventor of a particular type of cheese, but to the forthcoming anniversary of D Day and the Normandy landings, and its commemoration.
Last week, David Cameron has paid tribute to Britain’s D-Day veterans ahead of the 70th anniversary of the Normandy Landings.
The prime minister described his “awe and pride” at an operation which marked “the beginning of the end of fascism”.
He was speaking on board HMS Belfast, the World War Two ship, which is moored on the River Thames.
The five surviving D-Day veterans who served on HMS Belfast were also present at the commemorative ceremony.
The 6 June 1944 attack saw more than 156,000 Allied troops storm the beaches of France and marked the beginning of the end of WWII.
HMS Belfast spent five weeks supporting the D-Day landings, firing thousands of shells.
The Prime Minister told the veterans he would educate his children about the bravery shown by those serving their country.
“I will teach [my children] that the freedoms we enjoy weren’t just handed down, they were hard won.
“I will teach them that their generation and my generation owe your generation so much.”
Tuesday’s ceremony came ahead of huge commemoration events planned for both the UK and France in June, including an international event on one of the Normandy beaches attended by veterans and dignitaries including the Queen, Mr Cameron, and US President Barack Obama.
I write this on the morning following the results of the European elections.
Remaining in France, first of all – it is worrying that a Fascist political party, the National Front, has won so many votes. This far-right, anti-immigrant party led by Marine Le Pen took something like 26 percent of the vote
Further, it appears that voters across Europe have also voted for extremist right wing parties.
Chillingly, there were signs a neo-Nazi candidate for the NPD party could be elected in Germany, giving the far-Right a foothold for the first time in decades
In Greece, the anti-Europe Syriza party topped the poll with 26.49 per cent of the vote and the extreme right Right Golden Dawn looked set to enter the European Parliament for the first time, with three seats and 9.3 per cent of the vote.
The party – which denies claims it is a criminal organisation with a neo-Nazi ideology – came third overall in Greece.
The anti-Islam Danish People’s Party came first in that country’s elections.
After a bloody World War, in which freedom was won at such great cost, what have we done to allow the memorial to be so besmirched by those who copy-cat (to large degree) those who created such division in the first place.
Did we win the War, only to lose the peace?
May our living memorial be a life that has ingrained in its heart these words from the Apostle’s letter to the Philippians, at Chapter 4 verse 8:
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.