Apparently we're not going to have a Fourth of July celebration here this year. We didn't get our act together soon enough and we'd be celebrating with mostly Australians, British and Canadians which seems rather odd to me. I'm sure the British would be good sports, and we would have had a nice party. But I'm having a little trouble mustering up much patriotism and probably won't be able to for a little while longer. I'm sure you can imagine why.
So I'll show you some pictures of the WWI monument here in Leran. This is a small village but look closely and you can see quite a few names of the soldiers who died in France or Belgium from 1914 to 1917. It is an incredible percentage of the population of Leran. There are three war dead named Boulbes and another Boulbes that died in Algeria. Jean Boulbes is our plumber. No doubt he has ancestors carved on that monument. This is not unusual at all, in fact, it is astounding to go into a tiny French village and see the disproportionate number of names on the monuments. Many of them have also listed the names of those who died in WWII or Indochina (VietNam) and some have monuments for the Jews who perished and those who died in "le Resistance".
I've not been in a single French town where I didn't stumble across a similar monument. Paris, Lyon, Toulouse and Montpellier probably have them too. I don't know how many French died in WWI but it took a terrific toll on the young manhood of France, the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, and to a lesser degree, the United States (I'm a little hazy on the casualties of some of the other combatants in the War to End All Wars). I cannot help thinking each time I see one of these monuments in France, "What a tremendous waste". As I recall, the German offensive stalled somewhere past the French border and became a series of small advances and retreats over almost insignificant patches of land at a horrendous cost of human lives. Generals simply wasted lives and the term "cannon fodder" was not an exaggeration. And I see these monuments and I think I understand a little the French behavior at the beginning of WWII. They were simply not prepared to make another sacrifice like the one made a generation earlier.