painting for peace
Ste Mere Eglise
Madame Renaud
Present   Past Furure

The focus Operation Democracy will be to rekindle not only the history that was formed over 65 years ago with the community of Sainte Mere Eglise, France but to continue in the hearts of our young children in the community of Locust Valley.

Operation Democracy has been working today towards honoring our ancestor’s mission. Projects that have come out of the rebirth of Operation Democracy are: the bronze plaque with the History and story of Operation Democracy that honors the village and the founders (2006), Lady Liberty Ball (2008), 9/11 Memorial Garden (2011), Refurbishing of the WWII Monument (2011), Programs during Veterans Day and Memorial Day, Music for Peace (2009-2012), Painting for Peace(2011-2012) and the International Art Exhibit Painting for Peace in France (2012) and the official ceremonies in Sainte Mere Eglise, France honoring the historic bond between the two Sister Cities from 1947. (D-Day, June 6th, 2012)

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The history books that today’s student’s read can never give an accurate picture of the sacrifices made by previous generations. Hundreds of American Soldiers have served in foreign wars and educating our children – the next generation, how and why so many gave so much to protect the very values and freedoms that we have is important. Teaching our children to “Never Forget” is the first steps and planning events that fun with a purpose is the road Operation Democracy is on.

Operation Democracy’s first project was, Lady Liberty Ball (2008) which donated funds to a comprehensive after school program for elementary school aged children in the town of Salt, Jordan; under the direction of the Middle Eastern Children’s Institute and Summer Soiree sent school supply kits for children in war torn areas through the organization, Operation Iraqi Children. Today, we are excited (2012) to have our Junior Committee once again host this dance for our young generation of Locust Valley. The funds they raise will continue to help us raise awareness and achieve our goals about Operation Democracy mission.

Since resurrecting Operation Democracy from the history books, the past 7 years, representatives from the newly rekindled Operation Democracy have been traveling to Saint Mere Eglise, France during the annual D-Day (June 6th) ceremonies honoring the veterans, to rekindle the bond of these two villages. On a recent visit June 6, 2012) to Sainte Mere Eglise we were pleased to have Mayor LeFevre honor this historic bond between our two sister cities. During the D-Day ceremonies Operation Democracy worked with the AVA of Sainte Mere Eglise and held a very well received Painting for Peace International Art Show. Mayor LeFevre agreed that the education of our children is very important and what has happened in the past shouldn’t be forgotten. The Mayor gave his approval that Ste. Mere Eglise will work with Operation Democracy /Locust Valley and reforge the bond through our children that was set 65+ years ago.

This year marked the 2nd annual Art Exhibit called Painting for Peace. The concept was to honor the Veterans & Soldiers of our community and the let the students of Locust Valley paint their interpretation of what peace meant. This event is held in conjunction of Memorial Day in May as a way to honor and “Never Forget” our military. This year exhibit entries were outstanding- over 49 artists submitted works of art for the show. 24 painting were picked and taken to Normandy during D-Day to be shown at the International Student Art Exhibit- Painting for Peace. This was exciting for not only the students of Locust Valley and Sainte Mere Eglise but for both communities and this is the future.

Operation Democracy was honored to be apart of the Locust Valley High School Veterans Day program on Wed, Nov. 10,2010. As the school prepared for the ceremonies, and philanthropic

action in honor of our veterans and their myriad sacrifices to our nation and world, Operation Democracy part in the history surfaced. Mrs. Masopust and Mr. David Ethe, Director of Social Studies put together a touching day of about what Veterans Day meant. The 700+ students sat in quiet and listened the Veterans, watched a video 5 minutes video montage about all the wars and listened as High School S.A.D.D. students read letters from soldiers written to their loved ones. One of the readings was of the poem “Locust Valley” by Simone Renaud of Sainte Mere Eglise, France. Operation Democracy has continued to support the Memorial Day Parade and our local American Legion Hall as well as support the students at the schools during programs.

On November11, 2010, Operation Democracy was asked to participate by the Matinecock Neighborhood Association’s rededication ceremony of the WWI canon at the Library. The refurbished captured German 7.7. cm field canon was given by the French Government to a local Locust Valley resident for his service as chairman of the American Red Cross Council. Operation Democracy reached out to help with the ceremonies bringing the American and French celebrations to the surface. Operation Democracy invited to have Barbara Gavin, daughter of the WWII commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, US Army Lt. General James M. Gavin, attend the ceremonies. Displays were shown at the Library about Operation Democracy sponsored by the Locust Valley Historical Society.

After the Veterans Day ceremonies (2010), Oyster Bay Town Council Woman, Beth Faughnan met with Operation Democracy Executive Directors Kaye Weninger and Cathy Soref for the unveiling of the new sign at the entrance to the village on Piping Rock Road. The sign now documents the history of the link between Locust Valley and Sainte Mere Eglise as the official Sister Cities in 1947.

This Veterans Day, November 11, 2012 at 2pm, Operation Democracy with the Locust Valley Historic Society will have a special afternoon at the Locust Valley Library honoring our soldiers and veterans on this day. Operation Democracy will be handing out information on the history in Locust Valley as well as future goals. The movie Mother of Normandy will be shown after the program.

Operation Democracy is excited to be included in the 2012 Gold Coast Film Festival on Oct 22-28th. Visit: www.goldcoastfilmfestival.org to find out more information. Mother of Normandy which features Operation Democracy and the history of the origins of civic pride in a small town on Long Island is featured, will be shown on Oct. 28th at 4pm at the Great Neck Cinema. After the screening, a panel will be available for Q & A. Following the film, the finale evening is being held at the US Merchant Marine Academy which Operation Democracy is honored to have on display Painting for Peace Art Work as well as students from the Locust Valley High School sing in honor of a segment called, “Heroes” which WWII Veterans will be honored on this special evening.

The completion of the documentary called “Mother Of Normandy” was originally debuted at the G.I. Film Festival in May 2010 in Washington D.C. and on D-Day, June 6, 2010 in Saint Mere Eglise, France (which Operation Democracy delegation participated in both premiers). The New York hometown premier of the documentary film was debuted in Locust Valley on Veterans Day, Nov. 11th, 2010, in honor of the Veterans Day. As we honored the veterans of all wars, this documentary showed what a Frenchwoman did for her heroes, the soldiers who gave her and France their freedom.

This story is about one of the most remarkable woman, whose devotion to a generation of heroes transcended all boundaries. Mde. Simone Renaud witnessed the liberation of France on 6.6.44, from the first town liberated in the Normandy invasion, Saint Mere Eglise. It was here, that she along with her three sons and husband, the Mayor of SME, watched the triumph and tragedy unfold during a day that defined history. She spent a lifetime tending to the graves of those American Soldiers (her heroes) who lost their lives there and corresponding with their loved ones they left behind. The mark she left is indelible and her story is too. During the film, you will also witness the documentation of the origins of Operation Democracy and how it all started in the hearts of the village of Locust Valley. Witness the impact of what a community did to make a difference to another community across the ocean.

During the premier, Patrick Du Tertre representing the Cousulat General de France read a letter to Operation Democracy on recalling the friendship that linked the two cities (11/11/10) In part it read, “The Friendship between two cities testifies to our profound and common attachment to the American and Allied soldiers who landed on the beaches of Normandy and who fought to restore the liberty of France and its people. Paying homage to Mrs. Renaud, notably by diffusing the documentary, which is dedicated to her, allows us all to remember the sacrifice and the selflessness of the soldiers who fought in the landings. Mrs. Renaud’s heros are also our heroes. Heroes who left to fight for a cause and for values, which transcend the individual: democracy, justice and liberty. We owe all veterans, particularly French and American, for what France is today, free and sovereign. We also owe them for Europe as it is today, peaceful, prosperous and reconciled with itself. I address to you thus by this letter, all of my admiration and thanks for the organization of these ceremonies in honor of the “Liberators” but also of the “Liberated.” Regards, Philippe Lalliot, Cousulat General De France (New York).

As part of rekindling Operation Democracy, we hope to work with the local schools and implement this film as a documentary that will be shown every year. This is a part of history that we want our local students to learn about the past and not forget.

Operation Democracy continues to participate in the September Concert Series a program hosted by Sister Cities International. This is a non-profit cultural program of SCI. On September 11th, a free “Music for Peace” concert was provided for the community in Locust valley’s Thomas Park. Operation Democracy had the following musicians plays as part of the concerts: Kris Rice, an acoustic guitarist and singer, Rob Baione, acoustic guitarist and singer and Bob Merrill, famous local jazz musician, filling the skies with music for the four year. (2009-2012)

On Saturday, June 4th,2011 during the annual week long ceremonies honoring D-Day Veterans in Sainte Mere Eglise, founding "Sister City" of Locust Valley; Kaye Weninger was the recipient of the first Maureen Kennedy Award, established to honor those Americans and French who have done most to promote positive Franco/American relations. Kaye shared the $10,000 prize with the A.V.A. (Amitie Veterans Americains) a group-founded post WWII by Simone Renaud, wife of the wartime Mayor of Sainte Mere Eglise and the subject of the recently completed documentary "Mother of Normandy". Maurice Renaud, youngest son of Alexandre and Simone Renaud, who established the award in memory of Maureen Kennedy, a staunch patriot and advocate for encouraging the strengthening of the bonds of historic and necessary friendship between France and America, presented the award to Operation Democracy.

Locust Valley Projects included: Spearheading and completion of the 9/11 Memorial Garden and refurbishing of the WWII Monument. (2011) ---as a way to “Never Forget”.

We hope to make this possible- for our students-- to engage in a humanitarian project for today, learn about the past, and be proud of what Locust Valley is doing for the future. This is a beautiful educational vehicle, a conduit to learning, of being aware of current events, of meeting a pen pal, of fostering the generosity of the human spirit that will carry on. Then going forward we also hope to engage the community and the children to take part in a variety of activities throughout the year with different degrees of involvement, including educational and cultural exchanges.

Our 2 new projects for 2012-2013 will be Ipads for Soldiers and building a playground in once historic war torn area along but continue in raising awareness on education and history. Please contact us if you would like to be involved in our future goals. 516.637.8496 or make a donation today.