The following post was provided by photographer Valerie Jardin. It’s an excerpt from her moving photo essay, Keeping History Alive.
It was in July 2009, in the town of St Lô in Normandy, that I met the Carentan Liberty’s Group. The group was created by local WWII history buffs and collectors. The participants spend several weekends each year reenacting daily scenes of the liberation, mostly concentrating their efforts in the Carentan area. The most unusual characteristic of this group is that it casts entire families. Many young children and their mothers take part in the activities and help keep history alive by sharing stories told by their grandparents and great grandparents who experienced D-Day first-hand in Normandy. The president of the group, Jean-Marie Caillard, indicated to me that, since that part of history is so prevalent in his region, it is of the utmost importance to keep it alive and teach the young generation about the sacrifice of so many who helped liberate France in 1944. The blend of members dressed in US military uniforms and French civilian clothes makes the experience unique and more realistic for the visitor. The Carentan Liberty’s Group is also very eager to show the military equipment used during the reenactments. Its members are very knowledgeable about WWII facts related to the region and beyond. I am particularly sensitive to the work and passion of this group as I am originally from Normandy. My parents, although very young during D-Day on June 6, 1944, still remember the events vividly to this day.
For more great photos, please visit Valerie’s website .