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1/25/2018 7:38:29 AM
Posted: 7/22/2002 10:04:15 AM EST
[Last Edit: 7/22/2002 10:04:56 AM EST by thumbhole]
[img]http://sfgate.com/chronicle/pictures/2002/07/22/ba_french6.jpg[/img] Full story at link. [url]http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2002/07/22/BA234404.DTL[/url] San Francisco -- Rounding a corner near San Francisco's Presidio parade grounds, they looked like something out of the past: the first in a convoy of 30 classic Citroen sedans, with horns blaring and French flags fluttering. They were met by a contingent of local Citroen owners and surviving U.S. veterans who fought to liberate France in World War II. There was French accordion music, Edith Piaf tunes, and wine. Thirty Citroen driving teams from France and other European nations are participating in the "Tracbar Yankee 2002 Thank You America" rally, a 4,500- mile trip from Los Angeles to New York. "What we're trying to do is very simple and humble," rally organizer Eric Massiet said. "We just want to meet these guys and say, 'Thank you.' We just want to say publicly that we will never forget what they did for us. I am 40. Perhaps I would not be here today if they had not done what they did in the war." Massiet is driving a 1938 Citroen that, he said, was used by a member of the French resistance to rescue five pilots who were shot down in occupied territory. On Sunday, the group traveled from Santa Cruz to San Francisco. They will follow Route 66 across the Midwest, stopping in Chicago and smaller cities, visiting New York and attending an international Citroen reunion in Amherst, Mass. Ysidor M. Sanchez, 79, was a 21-year-old Army private when he landed at Omaha Beach with the 30th Infantry Division on June 6, 1944. Soon after, he was wounded in the shoulder by shrapnel from a mortar round. He was later wounded a second time in France when bullet fragments hit him as he rode on a train. Sanchez has returned to Omaha Beach five times to remember the war dead. Recently, a French schoolgirl read him a letter she had written: "You came over here and lost blood for a country that was not even yours." Richard Reyes, 79, of Sonoma, was also there to greet the French convoy. Reyes parachuted into a Normandy village on June 5, 1944. "We didn't know what to expect. There wasn't a soul around," said Reyes, who said he was wounded at a French causeway. "It was a nasty, nasty battle." Designed and first built in 1934, Traction Avant (front-wheel drive) Citroens were ahead of their time. Their butterfly hoods, front-end transmission, and three-speed shifters on the dash stayed largely the same until 1957. The rally had its first breakdown when one of the cars blew an engine near Santa Barbara. The car was loaded onto a little truck called Popeye. Mechanics began working on the engine. They put a backup engine in the broken down car and the failed engine is being fiexed for the next breakdown. On Sunday afternoon, the group drove across the Golden Gate Bridge. Today, they plan to visit the liberty ship Jeremiah O'Brien, which took part in the Normandy landing. Stephane Coutue and his wife, Veronique, of Switzerland, are driving with their 3-year-old boy, David, in a 1954 Citroen. "It's incredible," he said in English. "Thanks for winning the war."
Link Posted: 7/22/2002 10:12:28 AM EST
It's good to be appreciated - if even by thirty cars full of frenchmen - with the USA having done so much for the world, and yet being so scorned.
Link Posted: 7/22/2002 10:14:40 AM EST
The one and only time I went to France, the only people I found to be jerks were the Parisians. The people living in the outskirts were quite nice. Nice to know that even some of the subsequent generations acknowledge what our fathers and grandfathers did for them.
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