In my last blog I explained that, after reading When You Come Home, Marlene Mendonsa from Indiana planned to travel to Epinal, France, to visit the American Military Cemetery where Raymond Kelley was laid to rest following WW II. In my next email from Marlene, she explained that she and her husband David arrived in France late July and were escorted around the cemetery by Mr. Anderson, the superintendent of the cemetery. He introduced the couple to a local gentleman named Mr. Adam, who adopted Raymond’s grave two years ago. Marlene had purchased a beautiful red, white and blue floral arrangement and placed it on Raymond’s grave, right between two small flags – one American and one French. She also placed a copy of my book and an enlarged picture of Mom and Raymond at the gravesite. After taking several pictures (which she brought back for my family), Marlene carefully made a “rubbing” of Raymond’s cross, with these words: “Raymond R. Kelley PFC 179 INF 45 Div Indiana Sept 10 1944.” Finally, before leaving, she reverently spread some Boone County, Indiana, dirt at the foot of Raymond’s memory cross, and scooped up a handful of dirt from Epinal to bring back home.
When the day ended, it became time to lower the French and American flags. Marlene was invited to participate in that event and she later told me, “I’ve never felt more proud to be an American. I’ve never felt more honored and privileged.”
My next blog will describe my face-to-face visit with the Mendonsas!