29 July 2003

Ah, I'm back in the U.S., hanging out at home alone while I wait for my mother and brother to return. Nothing like the United States, where we set up futures markets on whether other countries will suffer massive upheaval and suffering. In France, I'm happy to report that we weren't treated as evil Americans, despite Jon wearing U.S. Army shirts everywhere. The one exception was in a small town named Gentioux with this (rather unusual) monument to the war dead. (Every town in France has a monument to the war dead. This was the only one we saw with a little kid shaking his fist at it.) We were passing through town and stopped for lunch. We were denied service at the only cafe in town, being told that they were out of food. I am sure it was because of the Army shirt. I suspected there was something funny about the town, and sure enough, my mom's friends said that the town was known for being especially pacifistic. According to them, residents of Gentioux didn't even salute or wave when the French Army marched through the streets in 1945. That characterization was further supported by this article I found online. I have no idea why Gentioux, which looks identical to the several dozen villages scattered throughout the region, should be so bold and unique in its politics. Maybe everyone who walks by that monument every day has internalized its message, and they pass the message to their children. Whatever the explanation, this spunky little stick-in-the-mud village with a flair for peace was one of the most interesting places I visited.

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