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Staff Favorites

A showcase of our most treasured collections selected by VHP staff members. The written descriptions of these veterans’ stories highlight the diversity and dramatic content of our holdings. View additional staff favorites.

Image of Edward BayonEdward J. Bayon

Go to Edward J. Bayon's Collection

Although the fighting in World War I ended in 1918, the work of bringing home the American fallen went on for years. Edward Bayon, formerly a staff sergeant with the Army, married a French girl and had decided to stay in France when he signed on with the American Graves Registration Service. In April 1923, he was charged with taking a barge laden with the caskets of 952 American soldiers through the canals of France, Holland and Belgium, on their way back home. Bayon recorded his memory of this singular event in the one document in his collection. He was not prepared for the remarkable reception that the Belgians provided him on his mission. At each stop, as Bayon and his colleagues waited to proceed through the locks, crowds would gather to lay wreaths and flowers. Children would sing songs, bands played dirges and anthems, and speeches were made, honoring the Americans who had given their lives to free Belgium. Perhaps most touching was the ceremony in Bree, where he was given a letter for the mothers of the dead. Bayon would remember the honor paid to the fallen Americans five years after the end of hostilities for the rest of his days.

Chosen by Alexa Potter, Historian. Alexa's specialties are World War II, the Holocaust, and Central Europe. She came to the Veterans History Project in March 2005. (September 2006)

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  The Library of Congress >> American Folklife Center
  April 3, 2009
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