Origin of the association – Les Fleurs de la Mémoire
Les Fleurs de la Mémoire was created in 2001 by Frank Towers, a veteran of the 30′ US Division during World War II, and Claude Lavieille, with whom he stayed during his commemorative trips to Normandy. Its purpose is to pay tribute to the American soldiers who died for freedom and peace during the Second World War.
An American veteran of the Second World War, he landed at Vierville-sur-Mer (Calvados) on June 13, 1944, the day he turned 27. He was a lieutenant in the 30th US Infantry Division and a liaison officer, which explains his perfect knowledge of the smallest roads and localities in Normandy.
Saint-Jean-de-Daye was the first village he liberated. He took part in the Cobra operation which followed the liberation of St Lô, then in the terrible battle of Mortain. His battles then took him to Domfront, Evreux, the Ardennes, then to Belgium, Holland and finally Germany until the armistice. He spent several years in occupied Germany and obtained the rank of Major.
Journalist born in Coutances, he was deeply marked by the bombing of Coutances in 1944 on his 12th birthday. After being sent to Algeria in 1956, he became involved in the local social and cultural life. Altruistic and benevolent from the beginning, he chaired the Food Bank of the Manche. When he retired, for 3 years, he visited the sick at the Memorial Hospital of ST LO.
In 1984, for the 40th anniversary of D-Day, the TOWERS family went to St Jean de Daye, the first town liberated by the 30th US Division. There they met Claude and Marie-Thérèse Lavieille and forged such strong ties that they endured for generations.
He founded LES FLEURS DE LA MEMOIRE in 2000 at the request of Frank Towers and was its enthusiastic president until his death in 2005.
Frank Towers, with two veterans, comes in Normandy so as to prepare a trip for 30th US Infantry Division veterans upon the 40th anniversary of D-Day which is due the next year.
He goes to the Town Hall in St-Jean-de-Daye whichis the first town liberated by the 30th US Infantry Division.
The mayor then calls Marie-Thérèse Lavieille in as an interpreter during this interview.
That evening, the Lavieilles invited the the Americans at their place to talk about their trip.
The friendship between the Lavieille and Towers families was born. It would only grow along the years.
The Americans travel to Normandy.
It’s a success : seven buses, more than 300 persons, some veterans and their families are welcomed in St-Jean-de-Daye.
This would be reproduced in 1989 and 1994, leading to strong and warm bonds between the veterans and St-Jean-de-Daye inhabitants.
Then, no more package tours would be organized due to the veterans age, however, Frank Towers still comes, at least every two years.
He wants to visit his comrades’ graves in Colleville and St James.
Every time, he stays at the Lavieilles with those who accompany him – either brothers in arms or familiy members – and the bonds tighten.
The Lavieilles spend a few days at the Towers, in Florida.
When the time to leave comes, Frank said :
« I’m getting old now and soon I will no longer be able to visit the graves of my brothers in arms resting in Normandy. In the Netherlands, the graves are laid flowers on by individuals. Claude, couldn’t you get something done in Normandy ? »
The idea will grow.
As soon he got back home, he contacts his friends and several officials.
He gets a very positive response, even enthusiastic.
Claude organizes a first meeting in St Lô.
There are several volunteers, the board of directors is rapidly created and Claude suggests a name for the new association.
« Les Fleurs de la Mémoire » are created.
Registered office at the Departemental Council in Saint Lô, administrative office in St-Jean-de-Daye.
The association determines one first challenge : 500 graves adopted in 2001.
More than 2,000 will be adopted !
When Marie-Thérèse Cueff becomes president in 2006 after Claude Lavieille’s death, there will be 7,400 of them.
When George Pierre Joret follows her, we will be at 10,430.
And the numbers keep on growing.
Frank Towers supported very actively the association, in the USA as well as in France where he came very often until he died on July 4, 2016.