[Students of the Normandy Institute] your endeavor earns our highest praise. There's nothing more important for me as Ambassador to France to pay respect to you for what you do for passing the torch onto these younger generations

On behalf of my country, I want to tell you how grateful we are to each and every one of you for being part of this vital, critical, endeavor and how honored I am to welcome you this morning to the embassy."

-- François Delattre
French Ambassador to the United States of America

(pictured above with Matti and Mr. H. in the French embassy)
Sorry for the poor quality, these are pictures of pictures on Mr. H.'s phone. We will post them prettier in a few weeks. Ron forgot to mention that there were three high-ranking officers being bestowed with ribbons at the ceremony. Two of those three soldiers include: Paul Pensabat and Alain Weber.
Matti and Mr. H. are both diplomatic types but they received a first-hand lesson at what it looks like to be a world-class diplomat thanks to a morning hanging out with the French Ambassador to the United States. His name is 
François Delattre and he's a very nice guy, not to mention a great host for a great time. 

Here's what Ambassador Delattre had to say during special June 18th festivities in celebration of the 73rd Anniversary of Charles deGualle's speech to the people of France calling for resistance against the conquering force of the Nazis:

"Remember that in the spring of 1940, France had been invaded and occupied by the enemy. The French armed forces fought very courageously, losing some 120,000 soldiers, but also shooting down some 750 enemy aircraft, in only forty days of fierce combat. 
Those were days of extreme darkness and despair.
However, in the midst of disaster, General Charles de Gaulle, who did not accept defeat, flew to London with hopes of later reconquering the country. On June 18, 1940, from the studios of Britain’s national radio, the BBC, he appealed to the people of France to refuse to lay down their arms, to resist and to fight the invader."

The Ambassador then did a great job of joining the French Resistance with Operation Overlord: 
"With an astonishing premonition of what would take place four years later, General de Gaulle rekindled hope in the French people’s hearts when he proclaimed “France does not stand alone. She is not isolated. Behind her, lies a vast empire and she can align with the British Empire which commands the seas and is continuing the struggle. Like England, she can draw on the immense industrial resources of the United States.

In the cold mist of that gray morning, Operation Overlord brought the liberators to the soil of France where they broke through the wall of fire set off by the enemy.

They joined forces with the French Resistance – the Underground organization of half a million men and women – who had secretly assisted their D-Day Landings.

The people of France will never forget what the Sons of America sacrificed to restore France’s liberty."

Read more about our visit on the Ambassador's website http://www.ambafrance-us.org/spip.php?article4653 

The Naval Operations in the D-Day Landings at Operation Neptune        
Without the United States Navy there would have never been a successful invasion of Normandy. Just getting all those soldiers, weapons, trucks, supplies and more across the English Channel is a job that requires a few boats...okay, it requires a fleet of ships. Fortunately, the United States had exactly that and we learned from Dr. Sarandis Papadopoulos, who is also the Secretariat Historian for the Department of the U.S. Navy.

"Earn this"        
If you've seen "Saving Private Ryan" you probably remember when this line is delivered. After all that's been done and sacrificed, those who have gone before us need to know that what they gave will be used wisely. That's the message of the movie and it's something Matti and Mr. H. strive for throughout the trip. 

To Mr. H., this movie hit deeper than ever before. Matti had never seen it so it was all a new experience for her. To think that our soldier Virgil Tangborn went through those experiences really impacted us deeper than we both anticipated.
Mr. H. and Matti plan on "earning this" as we continue on our journey and dedicate ourselves to honor all who make this posssible. "We honor the sacrifice of our ancestors, the generosity of Albert Small, the flexibility of our families and everybody who made this Institute possible both coordinators, teachers and students--who else would we honor?" Mr. H. said. 

Please write with a question or any and all you wish to share. Fill out the form below or write to ronald.hustvedt@elkriver.k12.mn.us

09/17/2013 4:43pm

Dear Matti and Ron;

I have enjoyed the story you have told about Virgil so much. I'd never heard about Virgil until 1995 when I met Wendell, Virgil's brother. As Wendell and I got to know each other, I heard more and more about Virgil. I could barely visualize how spartan life must have been in Northern Minnesota in the 1930's but here was this high school, Virgil, who made the family shut down on Saturday mornings in the winter so he could listen to the Saturday Morning Metropolitan Opera Broadcasts on his battery-radio. Virgil finally let me read Virgil's journal. What an am azing young man to come out of this undernourished environment--hard-working, intelligent, and oh so curious (these three adjectives could also apply to Virgil's brother, Wendell). His death so near the end of the war seemed like such a tragic waste to me. But the amazing thing to me was that I thought Virgil, even though I was only 2 years old when he died, could have been good friends if the circumstances had permitted. Several summers ago Henri LeFauvre (sp?) and his wife and his son, Christian, came to Washington to visit Wendell and his wife, Andrea. We were invited to meet these French visitors at a nice picnic by the water. Before our picnic, Wendell raised the 48-star flag his family had been given after Virgil's death on a flagpole he had especially built for this occasion. After the flag was raised, Andrea read a poem she had written and several people spoke. My speech was brief--I said I felt, thanks to Wendell's stories and Virgil's journal, like Virgil was a brother I had never gotten to know. And now, here is this magnificent presentation about your remarkable journey to Normandy to research this fine young American. I want you to know that, thanks to your presentation of your trip to France, I feel even closer to Virgil that I have ever felt before. Your presentation will never be erased from my screen. For this I am very grateful.
All the best, your friend in Seattle,
Norm Hollingshead

10/02/2013 12:03am

Your presentation will never be erased from my screen. For this I am very grateful.


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