Earlier today at three different locations the city marked the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of Carcassonne from Nazi occupation; at two memorials and at the site of a former prison. Each ceremony was similar including the national anthem, a moment of silence and the laying of a wreath. Bill and I have long maintained that learning history is much more interesting when you actually see a castle in person, visit a museum where a famous painting is displayed, or walk through a cave that humans inhabited 20,000 years earlier and view the artwork they created. What I didn’t count on is how moving it can be as well.
In November of 1942, German troops moved in to occupy Carcassonne and the surrounding area and remained here for two years until Hitler ordered his troops to leave on August 18, which they did the next day but not before taking even more lives. To avoid leaving their armaments behind, the soldiers filled the prison with munitions to create a giant bomb that destroyed the building and all of its occupants, members of the French resistance movement. Some of the names of those killed are remembered today by street and place names around the city.
Bill and I each carry a coin in our pockets, mine’s a US penny and his a euro, that we call generically our “gratitude penny” so that each time we touch it we’re reminded of all the good things in life. It looks like August 19 each year will be a significant reason for having that penny.