V-E day: 70 years later, memories abound in France

fra120507xx004PARIS — When French President François Hollande lays a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier at the base of the Arc de Triomphe on Friday, commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Allied victory in World War II, 90-year-old veteran Rene Roché will be there.

Roché was a 20-year-old sergeant stationed in the southern German town of Constance when the war ended. Asked about his memories of V-E Day, Roche kept it simple: "The war was over. I was just happy to be able to get out of there."

Veterans and civilians will reminisce about V-E Day, a holiday here in France, with events around the country.

In Reims, a city of 180,000 about 80 miles east of Paris, U.S. Ambassador to France Jane Hartley is scheduled to make an appearance. This is where German Gen. Gustav Jodl signed the unconditional surrender on May 7, 1945 — the eve of the victory announcement — in a red-brick schoolhouse that U.S. Gen. Dwight Eisenhower called his headquarters.

Read more at USA Today

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