Article copyI've been following the progression of the coalition in Iraq of course, even though I wrote very little about it.
I don't pretend I'm being an expert on modern warfare; I don't have what it takes to discuss the strategy of the people in charge.
Besides, there are already enough experts on the field.
Somewhere around 250.000 of them.
And I understand more can be on the way, if needed.
So I just feel like it's best to let them do their job - and they've been doing it masterfully so far - mourn and honor those who fall, hearten and support those who carry on the fight and send a grateful acknowledgment to all of them.
Those Americans, British, Australians and Poles are fighting for us. All of us.
Just like their elders did, 60 years ago.
Oddly enough, once again, one can wonder where France is.
And on which sideI've been frequently away from my keyboard lately, for different reasons. For that I apologize.
Amidst other occupations, I'll soon have to act in this play, for which I'm also creating the music and designing the set. (Yep, the director is slightly taking advantage of my good will I'm afraid - But how can you say "no" to a talented, polite andŅ *cough* gorgeous *cough* young lady anyway?).
I'll be playing the leading man in this drama. It's taking place in a besieged town during an unnamed and undefined conflict (although it casts a general Balkan ambiance in my opinion - the surrounding enemies could very well be Serbians, judging by some of the depicted "practices").
There are men who fight, women who try to live day by day and a couple of lovers, Korée and Ajac.
Korée, the woman, is an idealist, willing to carry on the fight, even when it appears that it's a totally desperate and lost cause. Korée wants to save the whole world (or at the very least, the population that's left in the besieged town) or die trying.
Ajac (who will be incarnated by your devoted dissident frogman) is a survivor. He does not fight with the other men and is despised by the women because of that. He looks "strange" to the people in town; even to his best friend Menda. But nobody ask him anything because he scares everybody.
Ajac steals the dead, not by cupidity but because selling his findings to the enemy soldiers allows him to survive and will facilitate his main enterprise (At one point, Ajac talking to himself while searching the corpses says: "You must take everything. They're giving it to you. Because they know the price of life").
He is digging a tunnel so he can flee the besieged town with his lover Korée.
Ajac's survival enterprise will fail eventually when Korée, sticking to her utopia despite the pressure of reality, will kill herself in order to force Ajac to renounce the escape.
Since all Ajac ever wanted was to save his beloved from death, by killing herself, she also kills him - forcing him into a final fight that's just a suicide in disguise.
The ending scene sees Ajac, last survivor in the besieged town, cocking his handgun while waiting for the enemies to enter and pillage the town at nightfall, and determined to kill as many of them as possible before they get him.
The play ends up with Ajac saying: "I'm the last, you've made me the last one Korée; I'm nothing but a fist grasped on a gun."
Don't ask me why the director thought that role would fit me okay?
Anyway, I like this Ajac character. During his last argument with his lover, after he told her about the tunnel, there's this cue which, in my opinion, summarize the character:
I did all you said and I did much more, so we can leave. And I'm eventually the only one that fights. You're just getting used to the idea of death. Wouldn't the town win if we succeed and run away? We would be the survivors of the siege. You'll be the town Korée, wherever you'll go. That's why I'm fighting. But you're calling me a coward and I wonder if you do not prefer watching the men fall and count the coffins.That brings me to the idea of Memory.I've frequently visited the Landing beaches, sites and memorials in Normandy since the first time my parents took me there when I was a kid.
And trust me, I don't mean "tourism".
There's nothing really spectacular on "Utah", "Omaha", "Gold", "Juno" and "Sword". Just a few, discreet monuments in the dunes.
With names. Lots of names.
However, once you've been told - by those who survived - what happened here, it changes everything. On Charlie, Dog, Easy and Fox sectors at "Bloody Omaha" for instance, took place one of the most outstanding exploit of the liberation of Europe, carried out by 34,000 young - so young - heroes. They won, but many were wounded and many died.
To the eye, Bloody Omaha is just a sandy beach.
No white crosses, no huge memorial, no visible signs of those who sacrificed themselves and fought for freedom. No sign of those who fell for it.
Yet I remember "Joe" and "Tommy", heroes with no names but so many faces, who came here one day, fighters for a just cause, in a liberation army.
I was told about them, I read books about them, I saw pictures of them, and I watched interviews and movies. I heard their stories. The Joe and Tommy who got through this, told me about their brothers who didn't.
And they show me why they didn't fall in vain.
One day in July, standing on the sand of bloody Omaha a long time ago, I learned about Joe and Tommy. I learned that my own Grand Pa' and Grand Ma' once hid Joe, whose plane had been shot down, in their attic, to save him from Fritz. I learned that Fritz could have killed Joe and my grand parents for that. I learned that Fritz killed and imprisoned a lot of people because they weren't like him or just because they didn't think like him and disagreed with him. And I learned that Joe and Tommy came to stop Fritz acting like this and send him back to his country.
I know I wanted to thank Joe and Tommy for that.
So I guess I asked: "And where is Joe now? Where is Tommy?"
My parents probably answered that they were gone, back home long before I was born. Joe and Tommy didn't come to conquer like Fritz did, you know, hence they went back to their own countries. That's why, since I wasn't born when Joe and Tommy shed their blood to make sure I would come to life free in a free land, I learned about them by my father and mother, many years later.
And that's why I couldn't thank Joe and Tommy, like I wanted.
I know that today, there are fathers and mothers in Kosovo telling their kids about Joe and Tommy. I know there will be others tomorrow in Iraq.
I don't know if there are memorials to Joe and Tommy in Kosovo today and I don't know if there will be in Iraq tomorrow.
But I know that as long as I and other kids born free in a liberated land, here, in Kosovo or in Iraq, remember them, the fallen Joe and Tommy will live forever.
In the manner of Korée in the play, we will be Joe and we will be Tommy wherever we will go.
Some people need memorials to remember, I don't.
I can maintain memory and I can transmit it, without a shrine.
It's not an exploit to remember Joe and Tommy you know. They are the ones achieving exploits.
And that brings me to Etaples and the desecration of the British WWI memorial.
I'm not trying to find excuses for the people who did this or for my country, its government, its opinion makers and activists who created and hatefully developed the required conditions for this attack against Joe and Tommy' graves to happen.
I'm not trying to find culprits that would conveniently explain - and therefore partially excuse - this profanation. I read a "theory" claiming that, since the swastika was drawn the wrong way, that nasty blow was perpetrated by "Arabs". The French rocket scientist behind this claim supports his "theory" with the fact that Arabs write from the right to the left.
Yeah, right. Nice try.
I won't even start on the underlying racist argument. The insults were written in French, no matter the direction the swastika point at. Unless the Saudi, the Palestinian Authority or even Saddam's ghost sent a team of calligraphers overnight in the north of France, the people who did this, even if they had an Arabic ethnic background, are French.
They're part of the French "multicultural miracle" our elite so frequently compares to the US melting pot "failure".
And I'm certainly not trying, in this post or with the picture I made up yesterday, to be some kind of appeaser - despite my nationality - saving France's honor on a personal level by demonstrating that "not all French are like that".
I know there are, in this country, people who share my views, but I'm afraid we're just a tiny minority.
So why would I care for France's honor?
I'm being as displeased with France these past days (months, years) as the British and American people are today. Maybe more and more legitimately, since I'm a native.
But passed the first anger reaction, I took a moment to pause and to think about the kid I was on Omaha beach.
I remember Joe, I remember Tommy.
But I don't remember Fritz. Only his victims.
Fritz has no face. Fritz is dead for good.
Covering a memorial dedicated to the men who fought victoriously authoritarian and bellicose states 90 years ago, with insults, threats and praises to the dictator their descendants are fighting right now, not only confirms that these men were on the right side - we already knew that - but also that today's Joe and Tommy are living up to their ancestors' expectations, sacrifice and victory. They're still on the right side.
I call that, without a doubt, a consecration.
The kid I was that day on Omaha beach wanted to thank Joe and Tommy, but couldn't.
More than 30 years later, having reach adulthood with their memory still fresh in my mind and not besmirched by their progeny, I understand I can.
And I hope I did.
I am Joe, I am Tommy.