Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Paris plaques of remembrance

During my slow wanderings in Paris’ 6th arrondissement I discovered a number of interesting wall plaques of remembrance.

“Marcel Martin died the 19th of August 1944 during combat for the liberation of Paris.” Paris keeps alive the memory of those who died under the Nazi occupation of France during World War ll. French resistance movements fought against the Nazi and the collaborationist Vichy regime. The “Battle for Paris” took place from August 19, 1944, until the surrender of the German garrison on the 25th. I wonder how our fallen soldiers will be remembered from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“In this building and in this apartment of Christian Pineau in October 1940 the movement “Liberation North” the most important of the resistance in the occupied zone, was created.”

A resistance fighter rests during the “Battle for Paris” in August, 1944.

An inscription at the “Fontaine Saint-Michel” commemorates the “Battle of Paris” and the end of the 50 month German occupation. It is very easy to miss these sad reminders of World War ll as you take in the amazing beauty of Paris.

I found this wonderful historical plaque on the way to the Musee d’Orsay. “In this building, Hotel d’York, on the 3rd of September 1783, David Hartley in the name of the king of England, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, & John Adams in the name of the United States of America, signed the definitive peace treaty recognizing the independence of the United States.” It is easy to forget that France supplied supplies, ammunition, and weapons during the American Revolutionary War. The “Treaty of Paris” ended the war and recognized the sovereignty of the United States.

John Paul Jones was the first great American naval hero who captured the HMS Drake in 1778. It was the first victory for any American military vessel in British waters. The plaque says that John Paul Jones died in this house on July 18, 1792. He was only 45 years old.

This plaque commemorates Richard Wright, an American author who wrote about the struggles of the black man in American society. “He lived in this building from 1948 to 1959.”

Seeing with new eyes in Paris prompted me to revisit the history of the period. I’m really glad I did.

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