Several months ago I started searching for the family of my Grandpa's friend, Joe Tofinchio (who was killed in WWII). Less than a month later I successfully found them, and spoke to his sister on the phone. Since then, I've exchanged emails with a few other members of the Tofinchio family. I was very pleased with the results; Joe's family was happy, my Grandpa was happy, I was happy.
But when you post something on the internet, it takes on a life of it's own. Info is out there for anyone to find ... and find it they do. Just this weekend I received an email from someone ELSE who was searching for Joe's family. I'm going to post the entire email exchange so you can share in my excitement:
Received on Sept. 6, 2008:
Heather, I am not sure if this will reach you or not. I can't tell you how excited I was to find your blog on Joseph Tofinchio! I do research for a group in Nomandy France called Les Fleurs de la Memoire. The members sponsor soldiers buried in the Normandy American Cemetery. One member, Monsieur Michel Drouel, sponsors Joseph. I have been trying to find information on Joseph and couldn't find anything beyond the information in theMy reply, on the same date: . He will be very happy to see the picture you posted as well as to know the little bit of information you provided.
Please let your Grandfather know that Monsieur Drouel takes flowers to his grave at least once a year, and cares very much about this man who gave his life for France's freedom. It would be also be great if you could let Mary and John know about him. Please email me if you have any questions or if would like to get in contact with Michel.
Lynn - This is FABULOUS! Thank you so much for getting in touch with me. It is simply amazing how the internet can bring people together. I had no idead that there was an organization like Les Fleurs de la Memoire. It will mean so much to my family and Joe's family to know that someone is caring for his grave. Please let Monsieur Drouel know that we are very grateful for his sponsorship, and thank him sincerely for us.Reply, received same day:
I know Monsieur Drouel's efforts will be especially touching for Joe's sister, Mary; she is the one who has flowers sent to put on his tomb on the anniversary of his death each year.
I will forward this message to my grandparents and to Joe's nephew, John. I'll also print a copy and mail it to Mary and John. They will be amazed to hear about Monsieur Drouel.
Do you mind if I post a copy of your email on my blog? My readers have been so supportive of my search for Joe's family - I know they will share in my joy at hearing this news.
Thank you again.
Heather, This is fabulous! I just about fell over when I saw your blog! And please do share my email. I started searching for Joseph about a year ago, and of course all I could find was his record on the National Archive. I decided to give it one more shot and found you. And his PICTURE! I swear I had chills when I read your story about finding him.Isn't this just amazing?! I checked out the website for Fleur de Memoire and it really is unbeliveable. If you get a chance, go read this page and this page - if THAT doesn't touch you, you've got a heart of stone.
The internet does bring people together. My Grandfather was killed in World War II and is buried in Normandy. Two other men were killed along side him. I wrote a story about my Grandfather that is on the internet, and a man in France found my sotry who just happens to sponsor those two men. I was so happy to be able to tell him everything I have learned about them.
Fleurs de Memoire is amazing. Their website is fleursdelamemoire.free.fr
I have met my Grandfathers sponsors, and they consider him to be their Grandfather now. They even have his picture in place in their front living room for everyone to see.
I will be sending along all of your thank yous and really do let me know if Mary or anyone else would like to contact him.
Granddaugher of SGT Dallis Drake
KIA July 27, 1944
And here is a link to the story Lynn wrote about her grandfather. Again, very touching.
I hope my success inspires someone else to research their family history, or to connect in some way with the WWII generation. A large part of the world owes its freedom and lifestyle to those men and women who fought in the war. We should continue to remember and thank them every day ... especially since, in a few years, they will all be gone forever.
UPDATE (10/22/08): Thanks to DreamyBee, here's a link to a brief National Public Radio segment on Fleur de Memoire.