October 18th–Travel Day

Today we left Paris by bus and traveled toward the German boarder.  Along the way we were treated to vistas of the beautiful French countryside.  Rolling hills of Soviet Laila & Fontuannes.  The farmlands were beautifully manicured and occasionally interrupted with groves of luscious green trees.   Fall is definitely arriving here in France.  We can see the green hills accented by the changing yellow, red and orange leaves of the trees, reminding us of ephemeral nature of all things.  Occasionally the sun tries to peak through the clouds treating us to light and a French rainbow.  (Looks just like US rainbows).

As we move through the countryside I can imagine the soldiers who fought here 75 years ago walking though the open fields and finding comfort and cover in the dense forests of Fontvannes.  I can imagine the young men who grew up going to temples and heard the Buddha Dharma and truly understanding the frailty of life.  They watched the falling leaves like their fallen comrades fluttering to the ground and becoming one with the earth.

As we turn south toward Lainey’s-aux Bols and Saint-Lerer PRs Troyes we stopped at a nearby rest stop for lunch.  Jane and I shared a ratatouille and soup for lunch.  A very clean and well kept rest stop.

After lunch the weather turned and we drove through a pretty good rain.  We were distracted from the rain with a presentation from Tom Graves, photographer and author who shared the history of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.  The unit was created in March 1943 and trained at Camp Shelby, Mississippi.  In May 1944 they were shipped to Italy and eventually joined the 100th RCT.   They took part in Operation Drangoon on the Gothic Line as well as the campaign in France near our destination in Bruyères.

The rain let up as we approached Gerarchner and our hotel Beau Rivage.  After checking in Jane, Larry, Anne and I explored the small ski town.

Dinner was at 7:30 pm in the hotel.  Mayor Yves Bonjean from Bruyères spoke followed by Mayor Kirk Caldwell.  I then led the words before the meal in English and French: “Throughout the next few days we will hear the word sacrifice.  There is no greater sacrifice than to lay down ones life for the sake of others.  Because of the sacrifices of the 100th/442nd battalion we here today find in each other, love, trust and a common bond of gratitude.  Because of that we find a oneness and harmony with our hosts, guests and friends.  May we all sharing in their gathering cherish the highest aspiration.  May this dinner we partake of nourish us physically and spiritually so that the mists of error and the foolish vanity of self be dispelled. Namoamidabutsu, Itadakimasu.”

Judge Margaret Masunaga of Hilo, Hawaii ended the night with a personal story of the 100th where her uncle died and her interviews with others who fought with the 100th. It was moving and poignant.

More tomorrow.

Rev. Shinseki