Suresnes American Cemetery and Memorial

Just to the West of Paris in the town of Suresnes rest the remains of 1,541 Americans who died in World War I and 24 unknown dead of World War II. I have often visited this site, in part for the view shown above. I am struck each time I visit by the inevitable goose-bumps on my arms and the lump in my throat as I read the names of the men and women who died fighting for the freedoms of others.

As a nurse and gerontologist, I have met many veterans who served in many wars.  In my conversations with veterans, I notice that their most vivid memories are usually from war. Some memories are of the atrocities that they witnessed and others are of the beautiful acts of camaraderie and humanity that they experienced. Among the veterans who I have known who have dementia, memories of war are often the final memories that they are able to verbally express.

Having never experienced the intensity of war, I assume that my final memories will be of pleasant things like the first kiss I shared with my wife or the pride I felt when my son took his first stumbly steps. I am thankful that these may be the last thoughts in my mind and I am equally thankful for the men and women who ensured that it will be so.

My best and my thanks,

Thomas

 


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