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Memere and Pepere

My grandparents, Al and Irene Mandeville, who their grandchildren referred to as Mémère and Pépère (always in that order), were married 80 years ago last week.

The date was March 22, 1943. The location was New Orleans, LA. My grandfather had recently graduated from Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia, and was stationed in Louisiana before heading to Europe to fight in World War II.

He would eventually fight his way through France to Germany before the war finally ended.

My aunt tells me that my grandmother wore a suit to her wedding because during the war, items had to be purchased with ration coupons, so even if she had borrowed a wedding gown from a friend, she still would’ve had to buy white shoes with ration coupons, which would’ve been a waste the coupons.

Different times. Makes our sacrifices during the pandemic seem trivial by comparison.

My mother was born in 1950, so my memories of my grandparents begin in the late 1970s, more than three decades after this photo was taken.

Surprisingly, they still looked a lot like the people I see in this photograph.

I can’t help but wonder what their wedding day was like all those years ago. So much joy and celebration trapped in the looming shadow of a raging war that would soon have my grandfather fighting for his country and his life half a world away.

I hope it was a glorious day for them.

I hope that for just a few moments, thoughts of war, ration coupons, and sacrifice were pushed aside so that hope, happiness, and love could rule the day.