Flo and Dany Boucherie Greet Vincent Sparanza

In my lifetime in France—a childhood cradled by its unique sounds and savors and an adulthood steeped in its contradictions, quirks and charm—I only occasionally heard references to America’s role in freeing it from horror. I knew the tales of selfless sacrifice and inestimable valor. But in all those years, I rarely heard a word about the role my passport’s country had played in liberating the land I carry in my heart. Though I am American, I wore the label subtly when I lived overseas, preferring to blend in where I sensed it wasn’t welcome.

After several years stateside, The Girl Who Wore Freedom came calling, and I accepted an invitation to return to France to translate for the interviews being filmed. In my three weeks there, I met history. I met heroes. I met memory and honor.

Michele Phoenix and George MullinsI met love in Normandy.

The kind I hadn’t known in forty years on France’s soil. It reached out and enveloped me. It surprised and humbled me. The love of a nation for those who fought and suffered. The love of its people for the visitors who crowd their space in June each year, exploring common history. They respond with sincerity and outrageous generosity—making strangers feel welcome, understood and cherished.

I met love in Normandy.

Speaking with veterans, in hushed tones and laughter. Watching memories dance in the light and shadows of their eyes. Awed by their essence as I stared into faces still haunted by brutal battles, imprinted with a youthful zeal dimmed by the savagery of war.

I met love in Normandy.

Michelle Phoenix, Willie, and a grateful FrenchmanLove for the Americans these French still celebrate. For the intrepid GIs and the country that launched them into certain harm and death, sacrificing everything to set the oppressed free. Their courage, rare and timeless, still hovers over marble crosses and whispers in the silence over fields and moonlit beaches, defying the decay of time.

I met love in Normandy.

The kind that sharpens understanding and amplifies compassion. The kind that speaks of hope despite the failings of this world. The kind that heartens weary fighters and those who listen to their tales.

The kind that allowed this French-born American to love and esteem both her Heart-Countries more.

Michèle Phoenix, Translator for The Girl Who Wore Freedom

Michèle Phoenix

Translator for The Girl Who Wore Freedom

Raised in France by a Canadian father and an American mother, Michèle Phoenix is an international writer and speaker who travels globally to teach on topics related to Third Culture Kids. She has written four novels, published with Tyndale and Harper Collins, two of which were Christy Award finalists and one of which (Tangled Ashes) features a WWII component. Because of her fascination with that era, traveling to Normandy as a translator for The Girl Who Wore Freedom was the opportunity of a lifetime, as it combined her abiding love for France, historical narratives and veterans.