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Joe and I sent two Society Challenge Coins to Jocelyne Papelard: one for her and one for Aaron, the little boy who flies the American Flag every day in his back yard. Joe wrote a presentation speech to be delivered by the Superintendent of Epinal American Cemetery for Jocelyne and we asked Jocelyne to prepare some words of praise and gratitude to accompany the presentation of the coin to Aaron. Here is her answer:

“I received your package with the two Society Challenge coins. I thank you so much for being so kind, but you know I only do my duty. The more I know about the boys [at Epinal], the more I feel I must be their voices.  We have requests for adoptions of graves almost every day from locals but also from people in other parts of France. What I strive to do is for villages or town to adopt a Soldier who died for their liberation and it is going well.

We have several official adoption ceremonies planned in the spring for some of the towns, like Vesoul, on the 8th of May with the family of the Soldier they adopted present, and le Tholy who adopted a boy from the Third. That ceremony will be the last week in April. The town is going to send all fifth-graders by bus to the cemetery every year.

We also have more and more individuals and patriotic associations requesting guided visits. The cemetery is starting to get recognition. Last year, because of the association, the number of visitors doubled.

The superintendent is absent until the end of February, but when he gets back, I will speak with him to arrange a ceremony with public recognition for Aaron. Memorial Days seems a good date.

Aaron is a special little boy. I have never met a young child like him with so much maturity and devotion to the Flag and to the boys at Epinal—even though I have met thousands of kids during my long career as a teacher.nff aaron

Of course, his dad, Benoit, is Franco American (like me) with strong ties to Texas where his family lives. He is a teacher at a junior college. Aaron’s grandmother lives in Texas, and teaches English at the high school level. Aaron is an amazing little boy, at ease and fluent equally with the French and American languages. I am so glad you thought enough of Arron to recognize him. I know he will treasurer his Challenge coin.”

A friend of mine from Alabama, whose grandfather was in the Third (30th Infantry Regiment) and fought in my village, has sent me two Division flags. I will keep one and present the second flag to Aaron when he is presented his Challenge Coin.

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