www.mozilla.com Weather Central
Voices
Headlines

Wichita to host Special Olympics North America softball tournament -2/11/2015, 4:13 PM

Via Christi to offer 2 events to help people enroll for insurance -2/11/2015, 4:13 PM

Sedgwick County withdraws from National Association of Counties -2/11/2015, 4:13 PM

Kansas House panel holds hearing on marriage -2/11/2015, 4:13 PM

Community leaders coming together to discuss ending domestic violence -2/11/2015, 4:13 PM

Parkinson's Disease Support Group to meet in McPherson -2/5/2015, 12:05 PM

Cited owner's case includes 2-day jail stay -2/5/2015, 12:05 PM

Smoky Hills Audubon Society to host free program on protecting birds -2/5/2015, 11:10 AM

Shuttle crosses many paths -2/5/2015, 11:10 AM

Jury acquits man for aggravated assault -2/5/2015, 11:10 AM

Second police officer to appeal firing to City Council -2/2/2015, 8:07 AM

Highway closed for repair of ruptured gas line -2/2/2015, 8:07 AM

Drop, Cover, Hold On -2/2/2015, 8:07 AM

Bill would let home-schooled students play on public school sports teams -2/2/2015, 8:07 AM

Wichita school district's Choices Fair set for Thursday -1/28/2015, 4:07 PM

United drops nonstop service from Wichita to LA -1/28/2015, 3:04 PM

Teen accused of assaulting girl with knife at school -1/28/2015, 3:04 PM

Mission of Mercy to offer free dental care in Salina -1/28/2015, 3:04 PM

As Kansas turns 154, five events that shaped our state -1/28/2015, 3:04 PM

Kansas Senate set to pass 'constitutional carry' of concealed guns, no permit required -1/22/2015, 12:07 PM

Kansas Senate committee hears from medical marijuana supporters -1/22/2015, 11:04 AM

Defendant in burglaries case ID'd in video -1/22/2015, 11:04 AM

Barber Co. manhunt was short-lived on Facebook -1/22/2015, 11:04 AM

Airport boss shocked with surprise honor on 30-year work anniversary -1/22/2015, 11:04 AM

Meetings to discuss goals of education -1/22/2015, 11:02 AM

Wichita City Council could vote on marijuana issue Tuesday -1/22/2015, 11:02 AM

Salina woman's bank card fraudulently used -1/16/2015, 4:59 PM

Retiring judge marks end to an era -1/16/2015, 4:05 PM

Man accused of beating, shocking woman -1/16/2015, 4:05 PM

Wichita City Council votes 5-2 to move ahead with library plans -1/13/2015, 2:50 PM

Restaurant employee arrested for allegedly adding to tip -1/13/2015, 2:49 PM

Misdialed 911 calls from cellphones waste taxpayers' money -1/13/2015, 2:49 PM

Mahindra to launch Midwest distribution center in Lyons -1/13/2015, 2:49 PM

County commission votes Shadwick chairman -1/13/2015, 2:44 PM

Dr. Donna Sweet earns award from American College of Physicians -1/9/2015, 3:05 PM

Boeing on track with deliveries of Poseidon jets to the Navy -1/9/2015, 3:05 PM

Prosecutors receive additional reports in child torture case -1/9/2015, 3:04 PM

Politico: Huelskamp flip-flops on Speaker vote -1/7/2015, 11:00 AM

No-till farming focus of winter conference in Salina -1/7/2015, 11:00 AM

Negative publicity costly to county -1/7/2015, 11:00 AM

Hutch man pleads guilty to assault on officer -1/7/2015, 11:00 AM

Final person sentenced in connection with beating of Salina woman -1/7/2015, 10:59 AM

City Council to consider higher storm water utility fees -1/5/2015, 12:00 PM

Change for the better -1/5/2015, 12:00 PM

Sylvia home deemed total loss after fire -1/5/2015, 12:00 PM

New commissioners respond to county issues -1/5/2015, 12:00 PM

Man arrested in connection with alleged rape -1/5/2015, 12:00 PM

Man shot dead in Haysville during reported break-in attempt -12/30/2014, 11:02 AM

Cold front plunges much of Kansas into deep freeze -12/30/2014, 11:02 AM

Access TV looking to increase quality -12/30/2014, 11:02 AM

Voting for grants will end on Christmas Day -12/23/2014, 10:56 AM

Santa Claus welcome year-round at Hutch home -12/23/2014, 10:56 AM

Marquette tyke gets big wish; family destined for Disney World -12/23/2014, 10:56 AM

Kan. death has spurred work on virus -12/23/2014, 10:56 AM

Hospice rep goes to bat for nonprofit -12/23/2014, 10:56 AM

Cirque du Soleil coming to Wichita -12/20/2014, 4:00 PM

V-Plan transmission line now in service -12/20/2014, 4:00 PM

Plains pupils: Pluto's a planet -12/20/2014, 4:00 PM

Hutch United Way campaign slips further from goal -12/20/2014, 4:00 PM

Hutch inmate charged with sexual assault -12/20/2014, 4:00 PM

Colorado teenager injured in 1-vehicle wreck on I-70 -12/20/2014, 4:00 PM

Salina Journal hires attorney to pursue names of county commission candidates -12/17/2014, 11:01 AM

Hays resident to sign copies of his book in Salina -12/17/2014, 11:01 AM

Grandview Plaza shows another clean audit -12/17/2014, 11:01 AM

Eighth-grader earns educational opportunity -12/17/2014, 11:01 AM

koch121514 -12/15/2014, 9:56 AM

Cattle rustlers hit several counties -12/14/2014, 6:13 PM

Michael McDonald brings soulful sounds of Christmas to Stiefel Theatre -12/12/2014, 12:02 PM

McCarville enjoyed Kan. Supreme Court work -12/12/2014, 12:02 PM

Constructing gingerbread houses en masse -12/12/2014, 12:02 PM

City redefines 'perennial violator' -12/9/2014, 11:59 AM

Feast day to shine with celebration, anniversary -12/9/2014, 10:56 AM

Ed board has lesson for 5 eyeing seats -12/9/2014, 10:56 AM

Century-old Christmas letter still has meaning -12/9/2014, 10:56 AM

Thirteen apply for commission seats -12/9/2014, 10:56 AM

Max Heim selected interim president of Colby Community College -12/9/2014, 10:56 AM

Gold coin gives needed boost to Salvation Army kettle campaign -12/9/2014, 10:56 AM

Abilene's Garfield Elementary has potential -12/5/2014, 5:54 PM

Man arrested for shoplifting at Salina Walmart -12/5/2014, 4:51 PM

Former school counselor sentenced for rape of 13-year-old boy -12/5/2014, 4:51 PM

Design for Central starts taking shape -12/5/2014, 4:51 PM

Kansas highway projects to proceed as state grapples with budget -12/4/2014, 2:00 PM

Foreclosures continue to fall in Kansas -12/4/2014, 2:00 PM

Sedgwick County trying to renegotiate IRS building deal -12/4/2014, 1:59 PM

Wichita police find 75-year-old woman -12/4/2014, 1:50 PM

High Touch acquires Overland Park technology services firm -12/4/2014, 1:50 PM

For five decades, TV anchor Larry Hatteberg stayed innovative, kind -11/29/2014, 5:58 PM

Details are sketchy on robbery at Kwik Shop -11/29/2014, 5:58 PM

Animal shelter director expected to take job in Amarillo -11/29/2014, 5:58 PM

Kobach on schedule to address Hutch tea party -11/29/2014, 5:57 PM

Some like it not: Graffiti unwelcome -11/29/2014, 5:57 PM

Defendant in Fairmount Park attack now charged with capital murder -11/26/2014, 2:54 PM

Weigand shuffles executive leadership -11/26/2014, 2:54 PM

Share the Season: Son's hospital stay put mom behind on bills -11/26/2014, 2:54 PM

Sedgwick County property tax bills went out this week, some incorrectly -11/26/2014, 2:54 PM

Injured vet, family find reasons to be thankful through hard times -11/26/2014, 2:54 PM

Foster dad pleads guilty to involuntary manslaughter in baby's death in hot car -11/26/2014, 2:54 PM

WSU to dedicate upgraded lab to study electrical power -11/24/2014, 4:55 PM

Wilbur Middle School employee placed on leave after arrest -11/24/2014, 4:55 PM

Wichita investors announce plan for southeast Kansas casino -11/24/2014, 4:55 PM

myTown Calendar

SPOTLIGHT
[var top_story_head]

Inspired by Normandy

Published on -5/1/2014, 3:44 PM

Printer-friendly version
E-Mail This Story

By Gary Demuth

The Salina Journal

If not for a family tragedy, Dominique Francois might never have become a historian.

Read more...

If not for a family tragedy, Dominique Francois might never have become a historian.

In 1940, Francois' grandfather was a widower tending a farm near the beaches of Normandy when the German army occupied France. Soldiers built a series of bunkers on his grandfather's land to fortify the peninsula in the case of a possible invasion, much to his grandfather's displeasure.

"It was a hard time for my grandfather," Francois said Tuesday by phone from his home in Normandy. "There were so many Germans everywhere. My grandfather was an officer during the first world war and didn't want anything to do with war ever again."

Francois' grandfather lived on the farm with his three young sons and adopted niece. His wife had died in 1943.

On June 5, 1944, as German soldiers manned the bunkers preparing for an invasion, aircraft began dotting the sky at about 10 p.m. Bombs began to drop, and three hit directly on the farmhouse.

Two of the boys, one of whom would be Francois' father, were thrown from the house by the force of the impact.

Shaken but unhurt, the boys ran to a nearby village, where many other homes had been destroyed by bombs, and found shelter in a church. The next day, June 6, American paratroopers arrived in the village and rescued the two brothers.

After the area had been secured by the invading Allied Army, the Americans took the brothers back to their farm, where they found the body of their father in the bombed out rubble. He had died shielding their other brother, who was still alive. The niece was found alive a few days later.

Francois' father was just 10 years old at the time.

"My father liked to say that June 5, even though it was a terrible day when he lost his father, was a great time because of the American GIs, who gave them chocolate bars and rations and took care of them," Francois said. "He said he would never forget what the American soldiers did for our country."

Stories an inspiration

Growing up hearing his father's stories of Normandy inspired Francois to become an historian and author, specializing in the events of D-Day and the subsequent Normandy military campaign. He has written 15 books on the subject and has served as a consultant for the History Channel, NBC and Inertia Films.

Francois, who still lives in Normandy, will present a program entitled "Normandy: Before and After D-Day," at 1 p.m. Friday in the auditorium at the Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home. His visit is made possible through the William T. Kemper Foundation.

Francois also will speak in Salina at 7 p.m. Friday in Sams Chapel on the Kansas Wesleyan University campus.

During both programs, Francois will give a visual presentation and discuss the Nazi occupation of Normandy, the Allied invasion and the liberation of France.

Respect for Americans, British

"In Normandy, people have a special interest and respect for Americans and the British," he said. "They know how much your country paid to free them. Normandy is like the 51st state. You see everyone there with American flags."

A limited number of copies of Francois' book "Normandy: From D-Day to the Breakout: June 6-July 31, 1944" will be available for purchase at the Eisenhower Library. Retail price is $24.99.

Francois' program is part of the current exhibit at the Eisenhower Museum, "World War II Remembered: Leaders, Battles & Heroes," a three-year commemoration of World War II marking the 70th anniversaries of the war and its aftermath told through personal stories.

Karl Weissenbach, executive director of the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum, said he was looking for a speaker from Europe to speak about D-Day and contacted Francois.

"Having his family go through what it did makes him a better speaker," Weissenbach said. "It's something that needs to be told -- not just focusing on the major players but smaller players involved. It's also an opportunity and privilege to thank our veterans for their contributions, not only in World War II, but other wars as well."

Events in Normandy

Weissenbach said plans are in the works for a major 70th anniversary commemoration of D-Day at the Eisenhower Library. The biggest commemoration event will be in Normandy, where Francois said 10,000 people have been invited to attend the celebration.

"President Obama plans to be there, as well as Queen Elizabeth and the Queen of Holland," Francois said. "And then there will be smaller celebrations everywhere in Normandy."

During his program, Francois said he wants to give Americans a sense of what it was like to spend four years under German occupation, be part of the French underground that fought against it and what it meant to France to have their country liberated.

"The liberation of our country after four years of occupation is so important to the French," he said. "There's such a special connection between Normandy and the U.S."

-- Reporter Gary Demuth can be reached at 822-1405 or by email at gdemuth@salina.com.

Dominique Francois, who still lives in Normandy, will present a program entitled "Normandy: Before and After D-Day," at 1 p.m. Friday in the auditorium at the Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home in Abilene. His visit is made possible through the William T. Kemper Foundation.

Francois also will speak in Salina at 7 p.m. Friday in Sams Chapel on the Kansas Wesleyan University campus.

D-Day statistics

Allied soldiers who landed on D-Day: 156,115

American paratroopers dropped on D-Day: 15,500

British paratroopers dropped on D-Day: 7,900

Allied vehicles that landed on D-Day: 200,000

Allied aircrafts on D-Day: 11,590

Allied casualties (killed, wounded, missing or captured): 10,500

German estimated losses on D-Day: 10,000

American casualties on D-Day: 6,000

American casualties on Omaha Beach: 2,500

American casualties on Utah Beach: 197

Civilians killed during the Battle of Normandy: 20,000

-- Statistics courtesy of Dominique Francois

digg delicious facebook stumbleupon google Newsvine
More News and Photos

Associated Press Videos