Mayor William D. Euille led a delegation from Alexandria to the 60th anniversary of D-Day this summer.
Euille was joined by Councilwoman Joyce Woodson, two members of Alexandria’s Sister Cities Committee and Rose Boyd who serves as staff to the committee. The first stop was in Paris for some rest and relaxation. The entire trip was financed by those who went. No tax dollars were spent.
“Paris is unbelievably beautiful,” Euille said. “It is so pedestrian- friendly and the architecture is incredible. We went to a number of the museums but didn’t see even half of the things that I wanted to see.
“It’s also very expensive. The dollar is only worth about seventy-eight cents and everything is twice as expensive as it is here. I’m planning to go back next year for my personal vacation,” he said.
After Paris, the group went to Caen, Alexandria’s sister city. “A very luxurious bus picked us up and took us to Caen where we were treated extremely well,” Euille said.
Caen has five sister cities from various countries. All of those sister cities were represented. “They invited all of us and planned a number of events,” Boyd said. “I went for the 50th anniversary of D- Day so I was prepared for some of what we saw but it was still magnificent.”
The group placed a wreath in Alexandria’s memorial garden in Caen. “Every sister city has a memorial garden,” Euille said. “They are all beautiful.”
ONE OF THE HIGHLIGHTS of the trip was meeting Great Britain’s Prince Charles. “He came to a ceremony at the Memorial Gardens when they were dedicating Portsmouth, England’s garden,” Euille said. “He shook hands with all of the mayors of the sister cities and we chatted for about three minutes. It’s something that I will never forget.”
Visiting the American cemetery at Omaha Beach was very moving. “I got some pictures of the markers with the names of soldiers from this area and want to try and locate their relatives so that I can share the pictures,” Euille said.
Boyd agreed that the cemetery is very moving. “Reading the markers, it was so sad to see just how young the people who died in Normandy were,” she said.
Boyd was the only member of the group who spoke French. “My job really was telling the mayor what we were going to do next and getting us around as best I could,” she said. “My French is alright as long as people don’t speak too quickly. It was a once in a lifetime trip.”