Sunday, June 12, 2005

Lourdes France

Last month I had the opportunity to go to the 47th International Military Piligrimage in Lourdes France. Countries from around the world represented themselves and KFOR sent a contingent to represent NATO. I was one of 85 people from 17 nations (Argentina, Austria, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United States and France) that contribute to KFOR. The Ukrainian public affairs department was there to document the trip for NATO. For a week a youth camp became a military camp where most countries stayed in tents and shared dining facilities and bathrooms. The first hot days of summer occurred while we paraded in uniform and sought shelter in the shade. The French military did a great job coordinating transportation, housing and food for thousands of soldiers.

The entrance to the military camp:

The KFOR camp:

Inside the tent:

The view from the camp.

The Lourdes tourist shops:

The grotto where Bernadette saw the Virgin Mary:

A cross on a dome of the Lourdes Basilica

Lourdes from the castle:

The owner of a tourist shop. He was friendly to US KFOR soldiers and was proud of his son being a NYC policeman. He pointed out the that the flag above his right shoulder flew at Normandy during WWII.



Preparing for a parade

The opening ceremony for the military pilgrimage

After the ceremony completed, the military bands paraded through the streets of Lourdes

We brought some extra patches to trade with other soldiers, but couldn't say no to the kids that wanted an American flag.

The streets were crowded with tourists and shoppers.

The castle after dark:

Even at midnight, there were lines at the faucets to fill containers with water from the spring at the grotto.

Breakfast with a cadet of the French military academy "St Cyr" (More information in English)

The candlelight procession

The US color guard casing the colors after the closing ceremony


Post a Comment

<< Home