Southeast Kansas native honors D-Day veterans while living in France
Hilary Betaille’s grandfather entered France on D-Day plus 10 under General Patton, which is why the French organization La Fleure de la Memoire piqued her interest.
“I felt as a Franco-American family who also had connections to D-Day and World War II we should become part of this association,” said Betaille.
Meaning “flowers in memory”, the association offers people the opportunity to adopt veterans’ tombstones at the American Cemetery in Normandy.
“You commit as a family to going every year and placing just a simple bouquet of flowers on that persons grave,” she said.
Since 2005, Betaille, her husband and two boys, who live in France, have driven to Omaha Beach to grace the graves of John Caulfield and Milton Gross.
A labor of love that touches those back in the 4-States.
Many years and miles before she created a life in France, she spent her childhood in Oswego, Kansas.
Betaille’s father, Steven Charles, a pharmacist in Oswego, says he is proud of his daughter’s efforts and the camaraderie it creates between the two countries.
“They take of their tombstones or basically decorate them or take care of them and it’s not just the Americans who do this the majority of the people that do this are the French and they treat our boys like they were their boys,” said Charles.
On Friday, Betaille was given a VIP invitation to attend the 70th anniversary ceremony of the invasion in Normandy.
She said hearing the canons was tremendous.
“Just a tiny tiny fraction of what it must of sounded like on the day as those young soliders came off those boats onto the beach of Normandy.”
But the biggest moment for Betaille was meeting General Patton’s granddaughter.
Perhaps a sign sent from their grandfathers