The majority of my visit to Europe was spent with my great-uncle and cousin (father and son). My great-uncle has achieved a lot yet been through a LOT. The north of France is not where anyone would want to have been between 1914 and 1945 had they known the events that were to take place. Yet this is when and where my great Uncle was born and lived. Though the Great War ended in 1918 when my great-uncle was a year old, the aftermath of that war lingered and ultimately led to the Second World War. Quite a few years back I learned my uncle was essentially a prisoner of war for the Germans and I was fascinated and saddened by this. During this visit I had him tell me more and give me timeline details. He showed me photos, and his “German passport”. This man’s ability to fix an engine is what probably made his life bearable compared to others when Germany invaded France during the Second World War. The North of France to me is beautiful yet sadly longing. The country highways are littered with graveyards of the many fallen soldiers. The nationalities are not only French, but German, English, Australian, Canadian that I know of. Here is a site a came across with images of some: http://www.anzacsinfrance.com/cemeteries/. Here are some of the images I took during my trips:
When we passed these cemeteries my great-uncle would point them out. We didn’t stop at all of them because that alone would have taken up the time of my visit but when he did he would get emotional. He wouldn’t cry but this thing would happen to his voice and it isn’t only because he is now 94 years old. I have always believed war to be a tragedy, it truly breaks my heart but to see it break the heart of an old man who has endured war enforces my belief. I am not anti-military . I served in the military for four years. Maybe I am a bit of a contradiction. I am a pharmacy technician (training in military) that does not resort to medicine when I am sick unless my life depends on it and I am an airman that does not think that war is the first option. To me we are all humans and should never fight each other to the death. We will never get along in complete harmony because we have the freedom of opinion but that should never justify the killing of another. But when the times comes and one chooses to enforce their beliefs on you against your will then actions must be taken to protect yourself.
Anyhow enough about all that….my sole point of this post was to tell you a bit about my great-uncle and post some photos of him. But I suppose his history is intertwined in the above hence my immense deviation of my original intent for the post. Here is the man,Ramon, my great uncle who I first met when I was ten and fell in love with instantaneously.
I had planned to photograph him but could not come up with a way to do it or environment that “clicked” for me. These happened quite by accident. I had my camera with me because a baby bird had landed on the window ledge outside the office and I tried to get a photo (the garden is a symphony of birds…quite lovely). He was in there rewriting the ancestry of my family and I started photographing him. The orange in the office and last image is because he had a garage and car dealership for a french company by the name of Renault. My favorite image of him, by far, is the second.
Here is a link to:
Part II of my visit