Raquel Bitton | Diaries


God Bless America

A Love Letter to Americans from Paris

I have just returned from Paris where I shot the second phase of my movie on the life and songs of Edith Piaf which is geared for Art houses and film festivals around the world.

Raquel Bitton

It has been a most amazing experience and a very positive one. One of the days in Paris we had a luncheon with some great French celebrities like Marcel Cerdan Junior (son of the middle weight boxing champion of the world Marcel Cerdan), Francis Lai who wrote "a man and a woman", Jacqueline Boyer (Piaf had "stolen" her father (Jacques Pills" from her mother the famous Chanteuse Lucienne Boyer, Simone Decan (Piaf's half sister, a crazed woman with a hurried trashy speech to her and colorful tales), Michel Rivgauche (who had written for Piaf and author of "La foule" and Maurice Chevalier's family and the list went on and on. The luncheon was organized at the feet of Pere La Chaise in a restaurant called "Le Ramus", it was filmed in its entirity as sort of a "Table ronde" where people spoke openly about life and love and Piaf (Marcel Cerdan Junior and Jacqueline Boyer lived in Piaf's house for years in 1952,Marcel Cerdan had died in 1949 and Piaf sent out for his children who lived with her for many years in 1952 Piaf married Jacques Pills, that's how Jacqueline Boyer and Marcel Cerdan Junior lived under the same roof.. Ah!! The French!!)

The food was excellent, the wine exquisite, and as they say "Vinum verita", the truth came out (You'll see in in the film, even Fellini could not have staged such an amazing get together) During the lunch Their sentiment towards America was so heartwarming. (The September 11 tragedies were only a month ago, our luncheon happened October 11 as of this writing, another coincidence). I thought you'd like to read a letter I just received and I translated in English from one of the celebrities (her name is Rosalie Dubois, and she is a legendary French chanteuse who became famous in the late forties, she shared with me that Piaf tried to "Steal" her man and that they had gotten in a huge fight, they later on made up and forgot about the man, but their friendship lived on. Rosalie Dubois was very emotional when it came to my beloved country the United States of America and she let me know her feelings in this beautiful letter..read on..

Dear Raquel,

Here is the secret of our debt towards your country, the United States, and towards your “boys” that had come without any other interest but to risk their lives and to save ours so that we can be free.

Outside Ste. Mere Eglise (N.A.)

June 6 1944

Just like in one of Piaf’s songs “Un sale petit brouillard” (a nasty little fog), hung over Normandy, as it does in the month of June. The night before we could hear the howling of the sirens, and the enemy became more and more nervous.

The rain was merciless, and we waited for you. Our hearts filled with anguish for the walls of the Atlantic, the sinister bunkers were about to spit out death. It seemed as if time was suspended in the air. The weather was not helping, and we were telling each other “They won’t come, we have to wait, endlessly wait”.

In the night of June 5 or 6th, the buzzing, reassuring for us, alarming for the enemy, began and the first hours seemed so long. Pilots were landing on our heads, and we were running towards them to hide them quickly. We got used to it. They looked like mannequins in the sky, and the sky was filled with them. We had waited so long for them, but the winds were cruel and an entire division fell under the fire of the enemy and helpless we witnessed the massacre of the boys of “St Mere Eglise”. They were merciless those tankists of the “Das Reich” division. At last, when the dawn of June 6 was breaking, someone cried out loud “That’s it, they’re here”!

The sea was covered with boats filled with GI’S. My God, how could they hold strong on the beaches while the loss of lives was enormous and we hid like rats? Our hearts bleeding, we heard the canons of the German navy. At last at noon, June 7,we risked to open our eyes.

Raquel, they were here, walking one behind another. We asked them: “Are you French?” “No, we are Americans” So, because we couldn’t converse with them, we offered them coffee, we touched their sleeves, their faces, we cried our hearts out. They came to Caen and Lisieux, they made it to France. They won, can you imagine? No, you cannot imagine! The first tank we saw was called “Alabama US Force”, with the white star instead of that horrible black Nazi cross. And you want us to forget those days? I was 11 and a half years old and each detail stays engraved in my memory. May God Bless and protect America. We have a debt towards you. For life.

Rosalie Dubois

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