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Day 21: End of a War

Today the French celebrate VE Day: Victory in Europe, commemorating the end of the Second World War in the European theater in 1945. From the very beginning of our trek every town, no matter how small, seems to have a monument to their war dead. Nearly two million—military and civilian—died during World War I which ended in 1918. Over half a million French died in the Second World War.

Early today we came through Marsolan, population 460 where they were conducting a memorial ceremony at their monument. A man read off each name, which was repeated by the crowd. For such a small town, so many names. At the end a local band played. See this short video to see part of the ceremony.

Memorial Ceremony in Marsolon

One would hope that at this point in our human history we would have learned the cost of war. But a days drive to the east, Vladimir Putin is waging war on the nation of Ukraine.

I just finished a book that reads like a spy thriller—because it is a true one. Madame Fourcade’s Secret War is a true story of a young woman who led one of the most successful spy networks during World War II. Many of the French people I talk to haven’t even heard about this part of their history. A great read and truly interesting slice of French history.

Our stay last night was in the old cathedral rectory in the medieval town of Lectoure. The stone structure has two story tall rooms which housed only ten of us pelerins. Volunteers run this facility.

We had a short day today as the distance to the next major town is over 30 kilometers and we wanted to split that distance up rather than doing it in a day. The name of that town is…well, um…that name is a story in itself so it will wait until tomorrow.

Scenes from the trail.

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