2023 Congress in Saint James

19 March 2023 | Annual Congress, tributes and ceremonies

The 2023 annual congress took place in the room “Espace Le Conquérant” in the new town of Saint James (Manche).
From 9 am, members were welcomed with a hot drink and a pastry served by administrators while others were busy with various tasks, each at his designated position, everything went well. Let us note the participation of the future administrators who did not hesitate to hold positions of reception and logistics and each request of a member was immediately taken into account.
The president opened the morning of work with a word of welcome to all and addressed first of all Mr. David JUQUIN Mayor of Saint James. He thanked him for welcoming us in his city by placing at our disposal this superb room and associated the person in charge of this unit, Mr. Ledanois, whose availability and reactivity have bluffed the administrators since Friday, March 17.
In this historical town of Saint James, the president wants to associate the name of two men who have worked a lot in this area, namely doctors Thoury and Ravalet. The latter performed a heroic act during the Second World War and the presence of his daughter in this room was noticed.
Then the president mentioned by name all the administrators who were mobilized in a good mood. The floor was taken by David Juquin who was honored to receive the association in this superb congress hall. The president then addressed Mrs. Marie-Pierre Fauvel, representing the president of the Departmental Council and thanked her for her presence, and then addressed Mr. Scott Desjardins, director of the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville sur Mer and the only representative of the American Battle Monument Cemetery in the absence of Mr. BARCLAY, director of the Saint James Montjoie-St-Martin cemetery.
To note, the presence of Marie-Thérèse Lavieille (member N° 1), widow of Claude (co-founder) and the arrival during the morning of Mrs Massenet, doyenne of the members (103 years old). He also thanked Albert LEMEE, a member from the Vendée who designed a model of the Patton monument, which was exhibited during the congress.
Words of gratitude were addressed to the patrons : Departmental Councils of the Manche and Calvados, municipalities, small or large, who support the association in its actions.

The assembly observed a minute’s silence and paid tribute to :

– the members and administrators absent for medical reasons

– all those who, from across the Atlantic, are buried in the two American necropolises in Normandy,

– those who joined them to liberate us from the Nazi yoke and who never returned to their native land.
A minute of silence was observed, enhanced by the hymn of the association played by Christophe, son of Claude one of the founders.

After these traditional tributes, it was time for the balance sheets and projects. Beforehand, the assembly decided, by an absolute majority, that the votes would be taken by show of hands. Thus were successively read and commented and then submitted to the votes, the moral and activity reports, the financial account 2022 and the provisional budget 2023, commented by Mrs Blot, treasurer. The financial situation was adopted by an absolute majority.

The following points were then discussed

membership: the president mentioned an average year in terms of membership, but he emphasized that the latter are requested by the younger generation, which is encouraging for the future of the association.

the Internet site : the completely redesigned site is presented on screen by the webmaster. All the new
sections are developed. This site is effective since March 17 but it is still being written and improved.
He also evokes the relationship between the members and the association : postal difficulties remain with changes of address not reported (105 letters have already been returned), but also due to the new communes and their numbering.

The digital sending of the newsletters has been done through Sendinblue. The latter detected that out of 2800 collected e-mail addresses more than 600 were inaccurate, dangerous or in error. Members must provide an active e-mail address or both parties will be disappointed, both the association that sends and the member who does not receive the information.

The president asks the members present in the room to inform us of the members who can no longer fulfill their commitment to flowering for various reasons.

Renewal of the mandates of the board of directors:
The president mentioned successively :

– the mandates of 4 administrators coming to an end on April 30, 2023.

– the candidacy of five members wishing to join the board of directors after having accompanied the work of the board for several meetings in accordance with article 7-2 of the statutes. Thus constituted, the list of 9 candidates is submitted to the votes of the assembly. Thus are elected or re-elected :

– Catherine Meunier – Isabelle Pinard – Alicia Beaupel – Georges Pierre Joret – Franck Dufour – Patrice Fauvel – Damien Denis – Ludovic Pinard and Michaël Quoturel, directors. They will be called upon to serve in this capacity as of May 1, 2023 for a period of three years.

Activities :

On Friday, March 17, 2023, took place at the American cemetery of Saint James – Montjoie-Saint-Martin a ceremony “the lights of memory” in the company of many administrators under the direction of Alain Buffard who prepared the file for several months supported by members of the commission “events”. 120 students from the colleges of Pontorson – Saint James (public and private) placed more than 3000 LED candles on the white crosses of the graves. At the end of the installation, a ceremony of flowering and homage in the presence of the local elected officials, departmental elected official and regional elected officials was carried out and punctuated by the minute of silence and the national anthems to the sound of the carillon. This event was for most of these children their first commitment to memory and their motivation in this ceremony has given all its dimension of respect and tribute to this approach. The commitment of the national education staff in the preparation of this event was noticed and was one of the elements of the success of this ceremony of lights. Mrs. Castel, representing the cemetery director, made it possible for the chronology of this moment of memory to be successful.

The Memorial Day ceremony will take place on May 28 in both cemeteries.

On July 4, Independence Day, the association will continue to distribute roses to visitors.

The Welcome Committee, led by GP Joret, accompanied more than 500 school children in 2022. Other accompaniments have already been carried out and others are planned for 2023.

The President invited Mr. Desjardins to take the floor, but before doing so he expressed his satisfaction,

No difficulties have been brought to our attention, which suggests that the members have assimilated the system put in place and applied with benevolence by the members of the Colleville cemetery. Mr. Desjardins represented the ABMC in the absence of the Director of the Saint James Montjoie American Cemetery on March 17 and 19, 2023.

2023. He is still encountering difficulties that cannot be reconsidered at this time and the restrictions on access to the squares are still in effect. This does not affect access to graves for members, if they respect the process in place.
Major works are planned for the Pointe du Hoc which is under his direction. His intervention is unanimously appreciated.

Then came the highlight of the morning: the resistance in the Manche department
Michel Leblond, departmental delegate of the Free French Foundation, and Mrs. Nejat Brahmi, assistant principal at the Lycée La Morandière in Granville, gave a lecture on how the Resistance networks were organized in the Manche department and, more locally, in the southern sector. It is a titanic work carried out by passionate amateurs and equally motivated historians, to reconstitute the organization and identification of the Resistance networks commanded from London by General de Gaulle. A few questions completed this great explanation followed by a hearty applause that greeted these interventions.

The morning ended. In his absence, the president read a message addressed to all members by Mrs. Elizabeth W. Webster, U.S. Consul for the Great West. With warm and encouraging words, she saluted the work of the association and assured it of the support of the Consulate. Despite her absence in Saint James, her thoughts are with the association.

Before going to the table, whose cutlery was set at the back of the congress room, the President announced to all the members present the date and place of the next congress during the year of the 80th anniversary of the Allied landings in Normandy. It will take place in SAINT LO (Manche) on Sunday, JUNE 2, 2024, as part of the festivities organized for this event of memory. We are going to begin to prepare this event and in particular the interventions of end of congress which will be rich in documents and memories.

After a copious lunch, appreciated by all, the members who wish to do so will go to the American Cemetery of Saint James Montjoie-Saint-Martin in this locality, a place of Memory, in the heart of a region which lived through bitter fights for the liberation of this part of the department and of Brittany. Mr. Maurice Duhamel, mayor, welcomes us at the entrance of the necropolis with Mrs. Castel, representing the director of the cemetery. We are accompanied by the flag bearers of Saint James and Montjoie-Saint-Martin, Mrs Fauvel, departmental councillor and Mr David Juquin.
A short ceremony was organized in front of the graves and punctuated with a speech by the president, a flowering by the association and the three elected officials. The minute of silence was followed by the French and American anthems.

After this tribute to the victims, everyone was able to visit the chapel or the cemetery of Montjoie, where Moroccan soldiers who participated in the liberation of the country are buried.

A big thank you to Mrs. Castel and to the mayors of Saint James and Montjoie-Saint-Martin who allowed the success of these ceremonies of Memory, as we do every year, on a site with meaning.

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