On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Nancy in the Lorraine region, the city welcomed French and American troops and veterans, school groups and the general public for a commemorative ceremony.
After a military parade on the Place Stanislas, participants were given the opportunity to join Laurent Hénart, the mayor of Nancy, in a ceremony in the Hôtel de Ville. With its 18th-century grand hall as a backdrop, Mr. Henart not only paid honor to the heroes of 1944 but also expressed his condolences and strongly condemned recent acts of violence towards American and British journalists and humanitarian workers, reminding his listeners that threats to democracy still exist today. Despite small disagreements that the United States and France may have over societal structures or globalization, the alliance will endure, he assured, and the United States will continue to be supported by their long-standing ally.
Amy Westling, the Consul General of the United States in Strasbourg also paid tribute: when it comes to peace, “there is no way to fully honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice here in France and across Europe,” she declared, and then addressed the youth in the audience, reminding them that peace and freedom is never won, but is a constant process of hard work and dedication.
Finally, Mr. Hénart paid tribute to the “youth of Nancy,” who, he reminded his listeners, were a major part of the resistance against the Nazis: their names appear on several street signs in the city along with the words “fusillé par les Nazis” (executed by the Nazis) as a solemn everyday reminder of their sacrifice. Several high school students were then awarded citizenship awards in honor of their service to the community, and then everyone was invited to come together over refreshments in a symbol of French-American friendship and to enjoy the spectacular view from the Hôtel de Ville overlooking one of France’s most splendid treasures: a plaza where, 70 years ago, the two countries came together to preserve democracy, freedom and friendship among all people.