French Lady Honors an Oklahoman Buried at the Normandy American Cemetery at Colleville-Sur-Mer, France because he helped to free her country from Nazi Germany.
Memorial Day is a United States National Holiday observed on the last Monday in May. This year that will be May 30th. On this day we honor those those U.S. soldiers who died while in the military service for the United States of America.
In France, there is a lady named Cathrine Meunier, who will buy a bouquet of flowers and place them on the grave of Wilburn R. Harkins. Wilburn was a Native American of the Choctaw Tribe, born in Swink, Oklahoma, who died in 1944 during the Allied invasion of Normandy, World War II, 5000 miles away from that small town of Swink, Oklahoma, and is buried in the Normandy American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer, France.
Catherine Meunier does this every memorial day. She's been doing it for 18 years to say "Thank You" to this man that died while fighting to free her country from Nazi Germany. According to the Daily Oklahoman, "Meunier is trying to find any living relatives who can tell her about the man she has come to regard as part of her family."
Cathrine is part of the group, Flowers of Memory. Flowers of Memory puts flowers on the graves of soldiers, who left their home and families to fight for the freedom of France. She wants to know more about Wilburn R Harkins. He has become a part of her life. The white cross on his grave in the Normandy American Cemetery at Colleville-Sur-Mer, France, simply gives his rank as tech sergeant, his unit as the 23rd Infantry Div, and his home state as Oklahoma, along with his date of death being July 26, 1944.
The article in the Daily Oklahoman sums of the information known about Harkins as:
- Father - Silas G. Harkins of Hugo, Oklahoma.
- Wife - Edith
- Member of the Choctaw Nation.
- School - Soper School, Soper, Oklahoma.
- Employer was a peanut plant in Hugo, Oklahoma
- Enlisted in the army in 1940.
- Died in July 1944.
If you are related to Wilburn R. Harkins, you might want to contact Robert Stuard, president of the Lacey-Davis Foundation. The Lacey Davis Foundation works with ANSA (Association Normande du Souvenir Aerien 1939-1945) Normandy Association for Air of Europe during WWII. These are French citizens sanctioned by the French government to locate and preserve WWII relics. The Lacey Davis Foundation works with European organizations to repatriate these artifacts to the American families of fallen U.S. soldiers and pilots. According to their website:
The Lacey-Davis Foundation seeks to provide and maintain a record that will transcend their living relatives and become a permanent, accessible archive for future generations."
The American Battle Monuments Commission has a great interactive program online where you follow the Normandy Campaign from D-Day through the Liberation of Paris. To access this interactive program, click here.
Thank you to two Flickr users: