Around 20 years ago while on holiday, my landlady and her husband befriended a couple from Florida. The two couples stayed in touch and have even been on vacation together several times.
A few years ago, the couple from Florida contacted my landlady to let her know they were taking a cruise that would stop at several points along the Northern coast of France. My landlady and her husband traveled to Normandy to meet their friends off of the ship.
The first day they met up they went to visit Omaha Beach, the sight of one of the deadliest D-Day battles. The father of the man from Florida had been a survivor of this battle and his son wanted to see the site where it had all happened.
While visiting the beach the two couples were told by another tourist that a veteran, a man who had participated in the landings, was down the path and was sharing his experiences and answering questions. The other tourist explained that they had better hurry as the veteran looked like he might be getting ready to go.
They found the veteran and the man from Florida was able to confirm quite a lot of the details his father told him about the battle. So many details were similar that the veteran asked about the man’s father’s name and his division. The veteran and the man’s father had been in the same boat and knew each other quite well. The veteran was able to tell him details of his father’s life in the army and specifically what his father did during the battle.
The veteran had answered some of the assembled tourists’ questions in French. My landlady enquired where he had learned to speak French so well. He had grown up in France, he said. Before the war, he left Paris to go to university in New York. While he was gone, the Germans occupied Paris and he was unable to return home to Europe. While in the US he received news that his Jewish family had been rounded up and sent to Auschwitz. On hearing this news he asked if he could join the US Army and they agreed to let him serve.
My landlady asked, in which part of Paris did he grow up? In the Marais. This is the area where my landlady and her husband have lived all of their lives. Further questions revealed, the veteran had known my landlady’s father.
French and American friends by chance meet a Omaha Beach veteran on Omaha Beach who knew both of their fathers and could bring history to life. Incredible.