A Piece of History

January 25, 2008 at 4:29 pm Leave a comment

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FoHi-relevant excerpts from the book Is Paris Burning?, a World War II classic book by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre (1965). And relevant, too, because Jan. 23 was National Handwriting Day.

For some men, the city ahead already had a special meaning. Lieutenant Colonel Dee Stone patted the worn envelope inside his field jacket as he heard the news. The letter was Stone’s talisman. He carried it since the night he left his home in Forest Hills, New York, in November, 1943, to sail for England. It had landed with him on D Day, followed him through the bloody hedgerows of Normandy. It had brought him alive to the outskirts of Paris, and tomorrow Stone would keep faith with its author. He would deliver it in Paris.

***

In her neat two-room apartment at 102 rue de Richelieu, Mme. Jacques Jugeat listened to the happy howls of the crowds in the street below. The seventy-one-year-old widow smiled with just a touch of sadness at the noise. She was alone in Paris, cut off from her family, and she was spending Liberation Day as she had spent most of the occupation, along with her thoughts. So lost was she in those thoughts that she failed to hear the first knock on her door. At the second she started and was sure it was a mistake. At the third, timid and afraid, she went to answer it.

There, standing before her, was a smiling giant in a strange uniform. He reached into his pocket and on this Liberation afternoon, the first American Mme. Jugeat has ever seen handed her a letter. It was from her only son 3,600 miles away in a country she had never known. The soldier before her was Lieutenant Colonel Dee Stone. Mme. Jugeat’s son was Stone’s next-door neighbor in Forest Hills, New York. The night Stone had left the United States, Jugeat had given him this letter to deliver in Paris. “It’ll bring you luck,” he had said. It was the letter Stone had carried as a talisman across Utah beach, throughout Normandy’s hedgerows to this dim Paris apartment.

Additional research, as forwarded to me by a resident of the building where Colonel Stone and Mme. Jugeat’s son were once neighbors, revealed that Dee Stone and his wife had a son, Dee Wayne Stone, Jr., born February 17, 1943, who was a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. At 23, on June 16, 1966, he started his tour of duty as a pilot. He was killed on November 11, 1966, along with two other crewman and one passenger when their helicopter was shot down. His remains were recovered in South Vietnam.

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Entry filed under: Forest Hills, history.

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